A former member of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” U.S. hockey team trades his sticks and skates for goggles and aerobars.
Like most kids in Boston, Dave Silk grew up playing sports in the street: baseball in the warmer months, hockey when the temperatures dropped. As the grandson of Red Sox player Hal Janvrin, Silk’s pedigree implied he would lean toward baseball, but there was one catch: “I couldn’t hit a curveball!” Silk says.
After an illustrious hockey career, including Olympic gold as a member of the renowned 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team, a standout NHL career, and induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Silk settled down in a small seaside community on the south shore of Boston. He still takes to the streets to play—but now, he’s on his bike.
“I ran a few marathons when I was younger, and was looking for a new challenge,” he recalls of his start in triathlon. “I met some triathletes at the gym, and the sense of camaraderie, inclusiveness and enthusiasm was contagious.”
Silk, who professes to have “a complete lack of moderation with virtually everything,” jumped in to triathlon training full bore. Though running and cycling came relatively easy to the lifelong athlete, swimming was a different story.
“I grew up by the ocean, so I think I swam just enough to pick up every bad habit there is,” Silk jokes about his swim skills. “I spend a lot of time at Masters swim searching for coins down by the drain.”
Silk’s first triathlon, a popular sprint race in Cohasset, Mass., was an affirmation of the sense of community that lured him to the sport. Many new friends were made (including his future stepdaughter, Alli), much support was shouted, and a flat tire on the bike leg was fixed with the assistance of a benevolent homeowner along the race course.
“Triathletes seem to go out of their way to be friendly and helpful,” he says. “That includes race day.”
Some of those helpful friends include his former hockey teammates Mark Johnson and Pat LaFontaine, who compete in Ironman triathlons. Silk hopes to one day follow in their footsteps and complete the full iron distance.
“In the meantime, though, the journey is plenty enjoyable,” says Silk. “I am more focused on staying fit and healthy and progressing consistently.”
Though most triathletes might joke that the only similarity between triathlon and hockey is the full-body violence during the swim start, Silk sees many similarities in the two sports.
“You have to be a little crazy to do either one!” Silk says, laughing. “Seriously, though, they are both physically demanding and taxing on your body. Both sports require more than a small element of persistence and determination. And they are both so incredibly humbling. There’s just nowhere to hide if, and when, things go south.”
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