Eddy “the Jet” Alvarez was back on the ice again, this time trying to stay on his skates instead of his backside like other speedskating Olympic events he has been in this year. This time Alvarez and his three teammates glided to a silver medal in the 5,000-meter relay finishing just .271 seconds behind Russia.
Alvarez was back in action on Feb. 21 in Sochi, Russia. Friday was the last event for the beleaguered U.S speedskaters, after crashing and burning in the last couple of events; it was their time to stand or fall in the 5,000 meter-relay.
“We are not going home empty-handed and that is awesome,” Alvarez told the Miami Herald after the relay.
Alvarez became the second Cuban-American, after four-time Olympian and two-time bronze medalist Jennifer Rodriguez, to win a medal during the Winter Olympics.
“The pressure had been building,” Alvarez told the Miami Herald. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I am so happy to get a silver medal for my home country and my parents’ home country.”
Back in 2012, Alvarez’s Olympic dreams and hopes were nearly crushed due to a serious knee injury, but a smooth recovery at home got him back on his skates and ready to compete again.
Alvarez opened his Olympic experience with a disqualification for pushing an Italian skater in the 1,500 meters. In the 1,000 meters, Alvarez went down when a Canadian skater fell in front of him.
Alvarez then was again entangled and crashed in a heap with a South Korean skater who impeded him in a qualifying race for the relay, but the U.S. was advanced to the final after a video review.
The trouble continued for Alvarez in the 500 heat as he slipped on a soft patch when trying to pass and went down again. He joked about it saying he deserved a medal for his proficiency at slamming into the pads.
For Alvarez, whose best time would have put him in the medal mix in the 500, silver was sweet redemption.
“Because of all Eddy went through to get here, he’s a stronger person, a better person,” stated Alvarez’s father, Walter. “To stand on the podium with the flag makes it all worth it.”