PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - This will be Jonathan Garcia’s second and final Olympics.
After a lifetime of skating, the Katy native is determined to deliver his best performance yet, and stand on the podium.
“He made a promise four years ago when he was in Sochi,” Jonathan’s dad, Joseph Garcia, said. “He was going to come back and medal.”
“I never doubted that he would make it,” Jonathan’s mom, Marianne Welch, said. “This has been his lifelong dream.”
Jonathan was born and raised in Katy. When he was 5, he attended a birthday party at the Dairy Ashford Roller Rink.
“He couldn’t stand up on skates to save his life,” Joseph remembered.
When he was 7, Jonathan was inspired by speed skater Dan Janson’s dramatic gold-medal performance during the 1994 Winter Olympics. He signed up for skating classes, and improved dramatically year after year.
“I would drive him to Waco every weekend for practice [to train with] one of the better coaches in the country,” Joseph said. “And in the summers, he would stay in Waco and practice the whole time.”
Jonathan won his first national title in 2004 and represented the U.S. three times in the World Cup championships. The U.S. Olympic Committee approached Jonathan, who joined the “wheels to ice” program, transitioning from inline to short track speed skating.
He won a couple of national titles before transitioning to long track speed skating, where he made the World Cup team in 2012 and the World Championships in 2013.
“He has really given us lots of good memories,” Marianne said. “I’m just very, very proud of him.”
“It’s been a great ride, and he’s really opened up the world to us,” Joseph said. “I love it.”
The family was shocked when Jonathan appeared to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the 500-meter speed skating sprint, but was disqualified because he wasn’t wearing a backup timing device. The next day, Garcia qualified in the 1,000-meter event.
Jonathan’s mom said she almost had a heart attack when he did not qualify for PyeongChang in the 1000 meter, now his primary race. But the next day, Jonathan qualified for the 500 meter.
“Jonathan has always been one of those skaters, when his back is against the wall, he comes through,” Marianne said.
“Glad to be back,” Jonathan posted on his Instagram page after arriving in PyeongChang. “Proud to represent Team USA.”
Jonathan’s mom, dad, brother-in-law, girlfriend and other family members and friends will travel to PyeongChang to watch him compete.
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