By Brenda Rudberg, Former Maplewood Heritage Preservation Commissioner
Neal Broten. Lindsey Vonn. Zach Parise. Amy Peterson. Amy Peterson? You may recognize the first three as athletes and Olympic medalists from Minnesota. Amy Peterson, however, has competed in more Olympic Games and has more Olympic medals than any of the others. Not only is Peterson from Minnesota, she is from Maplewood, MN.
Born November 29, 1971 in Maplewood, Amy Peterson started figure skating at age two before turning to speed skating. Speed skating was a family sport. Her mother, Joan Sandvig Peterson, is in the Speed Skating Hall of Fame. Her uncle, Gene Sandvig, competed in the 1956 Olympic speed skating 1,500 and 5,000 meter events.
Amy’s specialty was short track speed skating which requires strategy as well as speed. Four to eight skaters start at the same time jostling for position at high speeds. Passing can be perilous; skaters who knock over competitors are disqualified. In addition to her Olympic medals, Peterson held American records in this high stress sport in 2000 in the 1000, 1500, and 3000 meter distances.
Peterson competed in five Olympic Games beginning in 1988 at Calgary when short track speed skating was a demonstration sport. She won a silver medal in the 3000 meter relay at Albertville in 1992 and two bronze medals at Lillehammer in 1994. Amy competed in 1998 at Nagano without earning any medals. It was amazing she was even there after battling chronic fatigue syndrome following the 1994 Olympics. Her final Olympic appearance was in 2002 at Salt Lake City. Again there were no medals but there was an honor – Peterson’s teammates selected her to carry the United States flag at the Olympic Games opening ceremonies.