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By Brad Spencer
Oak Parker Emery Lehman spent the holidays in Utah defying the odds, surprising speedskating fans and stealing the spotlight from former Olympians.
Lehman, a 16-year-old junior at OPRF High School whom Wednesday Journal profiled last year, won the 5,000-meter at the U.S. Long-Track Speedskating Championships at the Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah, with a personal best time of 6:27.06. He edged 2010 Olympic silver medalist Jonathan Kuck (6:27.14).
"I'm enjoying it while I can," Lehman told The Salt Lake Tribune on Dec. 27. "I'm not going to be able to set a personal [best] every time."
The win marked Lehman's best race of his young career. He was the youngest competitor in the field at nationals.
Lehman, who is coached by Jeff Klaiber, a two-time Olympic long-track speedskater, maintains a rigorous schedule of daily trips to and from Milwaukee for training. He has competed in two World Cups this season, including the U.S. Long Track Speedskating Senior Fall World Cup where he broke the Junior B Men world record with a time of 6:28.56.