Track cyclist Kevin Mansker loves going fast, whether its on his bike or in his car. The up-and-coming Mansker did not qualify for the 2012 Olympic team in the match sprint (only one US athlete qualifies), but he has his sights set on Rio in 2016. He spoke with 1859 in May.
Name: Kevin Jett Mansker
Sport/Event: Track Cycling, Match Sprint
Hometown: Eugene, OR
Current Residence: Redondo Beach, CA
Years competing: Four
How did you get started in your sport?
A buddy of mine in high school in Portland suggested randomly one day that we go and try out this weird bike racing track close to his house. I showed up having no idea what a track bike was or what a velodrome looked like. We entered a class that is taught every Wednesday at the Alpenrose Velodrome and learned a ton. The next week I went back without him and never really left. I was hooked.
What are some notable highs from your career?
The proudest moment of my career came over the summer of 2011 at a race in Seattle. There was a long standing track record for the flying 200m (the event that is used for qualifying for the match sprint) and I had my eye on it. The owner of the record was a Canadian named Curt Harnett. He was the first man ever to go under ten seconds in the 200m, and held the world record for eleven years. His record at the Marymoor Velodrome was two years older than I was at the time. I took my shot at it and I broke his record by a whopping .002 of a second. I have the official timing slip hanging up on my wall at home.
What is the lowest point you’ve experienced? How did you bounce back?
In January 2011, I had an accident while training that cracked a couple of my ribs and tore all the muscles around them. I was in so much pain that by the time the next morning I drove to my doctor and he had to help me get me out of my car. I had to stop all training for about two weeks. The only way I bounced back was realizing that all the focus and energy I put into training on a daily basis, I also had to put into recovery. Once I was able to mentally give the recovery as much attention as I would have training, I was able to handle it better. I had to make it my job to get better.
What are your goals, both short term and long term?
My short term goals are just to compete at the Summer Olympics. Nothing compares to the Games in terms of nerves, media coverage or stress. Nothing can prepare you. So I really want to get my first one out of the way so-to-speak, and then really focus on 2016. By then, I’ll have been there and done that, and can aim to win a medal.
Would 2012 be your first Olympic team?
This would be my first Games.
What brought you to Oregon?
I was actually born in Eugene. From there, I moved to the Bend area, then to Canby and finally to the Portland area, including nearly every suburb you can list.
What is your favorite thing about Oregon athletically?
I like the fact that within a couple hours drive, you can experience a completely new environment. Go west and you are on the Coast. Go east and you are in the high plains and the desert. The north has huge mountains and the Gorge. There are some beautiful valleys to the south. It’s so diverse and all the outdoor activities that you can do at all of those locations can be so different. You can never get bored.
When you’re not training or competing, what do you like to do? Hobbies? Favorite restaurant? Favorite hangout?
I’m a pretty big car guy. Going fifty miles per hour on a bike that you are powering yourself is awesome, but it’s just as awesome to go that fast with a slight twitch of my right foot. If it’s fast, and you can race it, I’m there. As far as restaurants go, I love the Montage in Portland, and Brail’s in Eugene. To this day, I crave their chicken fried steak.