Long Beach ice skater, 48, aims for Olympics

Jacki Munzel of Long Beach poses for a

Jacki Munzel of Long Beach poses for a portrait with her speed skates at the Long Beach Ice Arena Tuesday. (March 20, 2012) (Credit: Barry Sloan)

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Jacki Munzel has spent her life on the ice, content in any type of skates.

She was nationally ranked as a figure skater. Her career was fast-tracked toward the trials for the 1984 Winter Olympics before she halted it to battle an eating disorder.

Munzel, 48, of Long Beach, has her eyes on the Olympics again.

"I'm very glad and very thankful that I'm alive," she said of her fight with bulimia. Munzel, a married mother of three, said that through it all, she hasn't been far from the rink. "I feel complete when I'm on the ice," she said.

She placed first overall in the 3,000-meter speed skating race in an elite international competition this month in Erfurt, Germany, besting dozens of Dutch skaters who dominate the sport.

Her goal is to reach the Olympic Games that eluded her at 20. She's looking toward the 2014 games as a speed skater with a healthier body and mind.

Munzel competed in the 21st Masters International Allround Games with a torn meniscus and with just two years of speed skating training that started after watching the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"I just love the thrill of speed and how your body works to create that speed," she said. "I love learning the technique of getting yourself to go faster."

But she's also focused on developing future talent.

"That wasn't fast enough! Do it again! Let's go," she shouted during a recent practice for the Long Island Royals, a state champion boys youth hockey team.

Munzel tries to instill her enthusiasm in the teenagers she coaches in power skating -- using legs and the body's core rather than the upper body to move forward with speed, said Pat LaFontaine, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who also coaches the Kings Park-based Royals.

"She's really tough in a really good way," said LaFontaine, a head coach for the Royals and former center for the NHL's Islanders and the Rangers. "She commands respect."

Glenn Corso, 49, of Smithtown, president of the Flushing Meadows Speed Skating Club in Queens where Munzel trains, said her personal resolve has meant beating the times of more experienced male competitors.

"She has a very keen understanding of edges and pressure," he said. "She has a lofty goal of qualifying for the Olympic trials . . . and I have no doubt that she's going to excel."

Munzel is at a training disadvantage, he said. The nearest long track -- a 400-meter oval -- is in Lake Placid, he said.

In international competition, Munzel faces top Dutch and Norwegian athletes, whom Corso said "eat and live speed skating and all have an oval 10 minutes from their house."

But Munzel beat such competitors two weeks ago at the Masters, despite an injury she sustained before the games. She has since had surgery.

Just qualifying for the Olympic trials, "that's even a huge goal," she said. "But I'm training for this. I want this."

Munzel's file

March 11, Erfurt, Germany: 21st Masters International Allround Games 3,000 meters

4 minutes, 39 seconds, 59 hundredths of a second

Feb. 4, Milwaukee: American Cup II

4:32.25

Jan. 7, Milwaukee: 2nd Masters International USA Single Distance Championships

4:51.53

Feb. 27, 2011, Calgary, Alberta: 20th Masters International Allround Games

4:46.82

Jan. 8, 2011, Milwaukee: U.S. Masters International Single Distance

5:15.41

Olympic qualifying time:

4:15.50

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