This is UpAgain: A Speed Skating documentary

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International Skating Union Presents
This is UpAgain: A Speed Skating documentary

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world of sport came to a standstill. Uncertainty loomed and the Speed Skating season seemed doomed, but when the International Skating Union (ISU) announced the Speed Skating Hub to be held over 5 weeks, there were mixed feelings from the community. Some were impatient to get back to competing while others thought it would never happen.

This is UpAgain: A Speed Skating documentary is a four-part short-form documentary series that follows the stories of five athletes who competed in the 2021 Speed Skating Hub, that took place in Heerenveen, The Netherlands, in January and February.

As the athletes settled into the Competition Bubble, doubts started to evaporate, their confidence grew and they wanted to prove to the world that with determination and commitment anything is possible. This is their #UpAgain story, at a time like no other, available on the Ice Skating Channel.




Episode 1: Hope

A look back at when the pandemic brought the world of sport to a halt and the impact it had on the daily lives of professional Speed Skaters. For some, small changes and adaptation had to be made, for others their whole world got turned upside down with no competitions on the horizon.

Episode 2: Focus

Skaters arrive in Heerenveen, integrate the Competition Bubble, discover their new environment and start training on the ice. They gradually learn how to live in the Bubble and shift their attention to what they love the most, competitive Speed Skating. Finally they can focus on getting the job done on a level playing field within the excellent conditions of the Thialf Oval.

Episode 3: Home

Skaters are now used to being in the Bubble and feel at home in their hotel and the Thialf Oval. They are comfortable and safe but with two World Cups done and dusted, there are 10 days to fill before the much anticipated ISU World Speed Skating Championships. Find out what athletes do in their free time and how they keep boredom at bay and motivation high in such a restricted environment.

Episode 4: Rise Up

As the ISU World Speed Skating Championships loom and despite the lack of spectators in the stands, tension is high. Will the Skaters give in to the pressure or rise to the occasion? No matter what, each athlete shows the world what it means to them to get #UpAgain.


Meet the Speed Skaters featured in This is UpAgain: A Speed Skating documentary


upAgain 2021 Joey Mantia

Joey Mantia (USA)

Specialized discipline: Mass Start
Three times ISU World Speed Skating Mass Start Champion

Joey Mantia contracted the COVID-19 virus a few months before he travelled to Heerenveen, which affected him more than he anticipated. He is put to the test on a physical and psychological level.
Without his coach present, Joey has to find the determination and motivation within himself. Trying to find his stride and celebrating his birthday within this unusual setting, Joey shows how the human spirit and friendships can help achieve one’s goals.

Full biography / Instagram


upAgain 2021 Joey Mantia

Peder Kongshaug (NOR)

Specialized discipline: 1000m
ISU World Junior Speed Skating 1000m Champion

Peder is the rookie in a team of what he calls the “big dudes”, the national Norwegian Speed Skating team, who he looks up to. He is overwhelmed and very excited about competing in his first major events with his idols.
Peder shows us how a young up-and-coming Skater copes with the pressure of competition, but also shows off his impressive barista skills.

Full biography / Instagram


upAgain 2021 Joey Mantia

Ivanie Blondin (CAN)

Specialized discipline: Mass Start, Team Pursuit
Two time ISU World Speed Skating Mass Start Champion

The Canadian national team could not train together until late summer of 2020, but then the Calgary Oval was closed because of a mechanical issue leaving the team without ice to train on.
Ivanie found her solace in the great outdoors and arriving in Heerenveen she quickly adapts and embraces life in the Competition Bubble, where she feels safe. However, ambushed by self-doubt, her journey in the Bubble is not straight forward.

Full biography / Instagram


upAgain 2021 Joey Mantia

Francesca Lollobrigida (ITA)

Specialized discipline: Mass Start
ISU European Speed Skating Mass Start Champion

At the beginning of the pandemic Italy endured one of the strictest lockdowns in the world. Francesca finds the willpower and strength to keep training despite the difficult conditions and little to no access to gyms nor the ice, while athletes in other parts of the world could still access their training facilities.
But with the support of those closest to her, determination and her positive attitude she proves that she is still a force to be reckoned with.

Full biography / Instagram


upAgain 2021 Joey Mantia

Thomas Krol (NED)

Specialized discipline: 1000m and 1500m
Two time ISU World Speed Skating 1500m champion
ISU European Speed Skating 1500m Champion
ISU European Speed Skating Sprint Champion
ISU World Speed Skating Team Sprint Champion

Despite the fact that Thomas Krol lives in Heerenveen, he has to join the Competition Bubble for five weeks like all the other athletes. He shares his experience of being reunited with his teammates but also keeps his focus on his career post competition to become a pilot.

Full biography / Instagram