Former Olympian focuses on fatherhood, small business
Today, Marc Pelchat is a father of two children, operating a small personal training business located in Wales, in Waukesha County. But about a decade ago, he competed as a speedskater in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and four years prior to that, he qualified for the Nagano, Japan Olympics.
"I was in the '98 and '02 Olympics," says Pelchat. "I just missed the '06 Olympics when I was 38."
However, Pelchat did not take home a medal and when he did not make the 2006 team, it was clear he needed to move forward with something new. So he and his now ex-wife moved from Salt Lake City to Wisconsin to live closer to his then-wife's family.
Pelchat, who grew up in Boston, played a lot of hockey as a kid. These days, he still plays hockey and skates for fun with his children: Molly, age 8 and Mathieu, 4. He says he encourages his kids in sports, but ultimately, it's their decision because of the level of commitment it takes to have an Olympic-sized dream.
"As far as my children, I would never push them away from it and I would support their desire to reach those goals. But as a professional athlete, I know it takes so much passion and desire to push through. I also know how hard it is to realize those goals," he says. "But it would ultimately be a thrill to see them reach those levels."
Although he enjoys his time on the ice with his family, he still reminisces about his days as an Olympic skater.
"The Olympics were amazing. Beyond words. I thoroughly enjoyed the ups and downs of being a world-class athlete and would do it again," he says.
Pelchat trained 4-6 hours every day for many years prior to making the Olympic teams. In the '98 games, he says he was simply honored to be a part of it, but by '02, he was poised for victory.
"Once you've been to an Olympics, you realize it's about winning," he says.
Pelchat describes the '02 Olympics as "heartbreaking" because he was skating so well leading into the games – he had one of the fastest start times in the world – but then fell during the competition.
"I had a great start and was skating really well and thought at the time, 'This is the Olympic games, Marc, and you have another chance,' and so I pushed a little harder and slipped and fell. I stuck my foot in the ground, spun 360 and kept going," he says. "I knew I was out of it, but I kept skating. Afterwards, everyone was amazed I could fall and get up that fast, but that's not what I want to be known for, you know?"
Today, Pelchat is the sole owner of Olympic Edge, a full-service facility that offers everything from injury rehab to weight loss clinics to sport-specific training for kids and adults. Pelchat says his training as an Olympian has been very beneficial to his personal training business.
"The relationships I have maintained with Olympic committee employees and top-notch trainers and coaches I have as resources is great for my business. And being an Olympian also allows me to guide some of my younger athletes in their quest to reach lofty goals," he says.
Overall, Pelchat says he is at peace with his past as an Olympian who "almost" won a medal and he's happy to be doing what he's doing as a man in his 40.
"I truly love what I do. I get to see people obtain their goals and get further than they thought was possible. It's is a huge rush for me," he says. "If I could skate at a world-class level at my age, I would do it in a heartbeat. But mentally, I cannot work that hard any more, so I teach."
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