TACOMA, Wash. — You’ll not only find some of the best speedskaters on the west coast at Tacoma Twin Rinks, but you’ll also find a coaching legend.
Chang Lee grew up in South Korea and was a Korean national team coach before moving to Washington state. He's helped grow the popularity of speedskating in the Pacific Northwest. Chang Lee will be watching the Winter Olympics closely, considering he has worked with Federal Way speedskater Corie Stoddard for over a decade.
"The first time I met [Stoddard] on the ice was in summer in 2011, when she was skating,” said Chang Lee. “The first time she was almost running with the blades like inline skating, but she quickly realized her problem, and she worked very hard every day. As a result, she improved very quickly, and I was convinced that she was a skater with boundless potential.”
"He was always hard on me, but in a good way,” said Stoddard. “He knew my potential, and he knew what I could do. He wasn't going to let me go easy on myself, which was really good for me. He's definitely one of the ice influences in my life.”
Seventeen-year-old Eunice Lee from Bellevue is also at the Winter Olympics. She credits Chang Lee for helping her become the youngest Olympian on the speedskating team.
"Coach Lee has been my coach for the longest time,” said Eunice Lee. “I've known him since I was 6, and so, he was like not only a coach but like, a close like, almost like a family member. On the ice, he would, he had so many great ways to teach us about technique, which is I think is something that is unique to his coaching style. And also, he taught me from a young age to like, appreciate the hard work.”
Three-time Olympian J.R. Celski also trained with Chang Lee and said he's tough but gets results.
"He wants all of his kids to do really well, and he pushes them, you know, in all the right ways,” said Celski. “He is a great mentor. I mean, he's an awesome guy. He smiles all the time, but he knows when to be serious with his athletes, and I'm really happy for him and that he's produced several skaters that have now made the Olympic team.
Chang Lee also coached 2018 Olympian Arron Tran and works with Cooper McLeod and Eunice Lee's sister Grace, who both have a great shot to make the next Winter Olympics in four years.