It was a privilege to honor two Wisconsin-based speedskating legends with a Bell Cow Award.
Bonnie Blair Cruikshank is an iconic American athlete, having won five Olympic speedskating golds and countless other medals and championships. Dave Cruikshank was also an Olympian, a world champion, and one of the elite skaters in the world. This husband and wife duo inspired a generation of Olympic athletes. They continue to take the lead in promoting speedskating and Olympic sports in the United States and beyond. DASH is a premier training organization that prepares highest-level athletes to reach peak performance.
Bonnie and Dave are standouts in countless areas, but we were eager to recognize them for two specific reasons: Their continuance of cross-generational mentoring for athlete development and their thoughtful attention to the “disciplined pursuit of excellence.”
Bonnie and Dave described the remarkable success of American Speedskating — especially the Milwaukee-based contingent of the sport — as having foundations in a rich tapestry of relationships. Athletes like Eric Heiden, Dan Jansen, Bonnie, Dave, Casey FitzRandolph, and many more worked together across generations of competition. They looked up to those ahead of them, gaining tangible hope. They encouraged those who were younger than them, furthering the tradition. Years of American success flowed through the mentoring that played out among them. This collective commitment to focus not just at one’s own path ahead, but on the possibilities for the whole unit, is inspiring and instructive for us all.
Second, these two great athletes and coaches present a disciplined pursuit of excellence that is admirable. Bonnie and Dave methodically identify how to improve. They reach peak performance by fully committing to their crafts. On the SGG podcast, Bonnie explained to us that, "If you want to take it to the absolute levels, there’s absolute commitment.” Over many years, both of these Bell Cows willingly chose to take the road that most others were not ready to choose. And while some may marvel at the depth of their commitments to training, Dave explained that he never saw the tough regiment as “falling into the sacrifice bucket.” Bonnie explained, “Are there things that we missed? Yes, of course there were. But, on the flip side, we gained so much. It didn’t bother me. I never looked at it that way. I was always positive, looking at what I was gaining instead of what I was losing.”
Congratulations, Bonnie and Dave! Thank you for pacing the herd and modeling a way.
Listen to the SGG podcast with Bonnie and Dave: