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Grant Cruikshank leads Colorado College with his Olympic parents as his role models

The junior left wing from Delafield, Wis., has been hot, picking up 5 goals, 2 assists and is a plus-6 in his last 4 games. The team captain's parents are former Team USA Olympic speed skaters Dave Cruikshank and Bonnie Blair, a five-time gold medalist

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Colorado College forward Grant Cruikshank (21), defenseman Bryan Yoon (4) and Minnesota Duluth forward Nick Swaney (23) compete for the puck in the first period Sunday, Dec. 13, at Baxter Arena in the NCHC Pod in Omaha. Tyler Schank / Forum News Service

OMAHA, Neb. — Like many hockey players, Grant Cruikshank can pick out his mom's voice when he is playing, even when there are 10,000 fans in the stands.

"She has one of the loudest voices and I can still hear her when she comes to my college games," Cruikshank said with a laugh. "It can be sold out in Denver or North Dakota and I can still hear her from the bench or when I'm on the ice. She's got a super loud voice and she used to have a couple blow horns and I think she got them from the Nagano Olympics. You certainly perk up when those things go off."

Cruikshank's mother attended the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, to support her husband Dave Cruikshank, who was a speed skater competing in his fourth Olympics. But before getting married in 1996, Bonnie Blair won five Olympic gold medals in speed skating and competed in four Olympic games.

Grant was not born until July 1998, so he never saw his parents compete in person. They are his parents to him and, when Grant looks at their accomplishments, he sounds amazed.

"To me, she's just mom and he's just dad. But it's incredible the accomplishments that they've had," he said.


Grant has had some pretty cool accomplishments recently for the Colorado College men's hockey team. Cruikshank has five goals and two assists in his last four games going into Monday's game against Nebraska Omaha.

Lots of skating tips

Not surprisingly, one of Cruikshank's strengths as a hockey player is his skating. With two Olympic speed skaters as parents, how did he learn how to skate?

"I learned to skate on a backyard rink in Utah that my parents would make and I learned to skate with hockey skates and pushing around a bucket," said Cruikshank, who learned to skate at age 2. "I strapped up the speed skates probably shortly thereafter, but really enjoyed hockey."

While the blades on the skates are a different length (speed skating skates are longer), Cruikshank said that the elements of being a strong skater in hockey are the same. Dave Cruikshank has been the skating coach for the Los Angeles Kings since 2016, founded and runs DC Hybrid Skating, coaches some speed skaters in the Milwaukee area and also runs a number of hockey skating camps during the offseason.

"As my dad has learned throughout his career and through his studying, it's all about physics and the physics about how to go fast don't lie," Cruikshank said. "If you want to go fast in speed skating, it's the same as going fast in hockey. Even though the skates are a little bit different, it's virtually the same.

"Both my parents have taught me everything I know about skating and how to go fast. They both do a great job and it's my dad's career now ... They both know everything there is about skating, how to go fast, how to apply pressure to the ice. They're both great teachers."

Bonnie is a consultant for DC Hybrid Skating, but is dedicating most of her time to coaching Grant's sister, Blair, who is a 20-year-old speed skater. In February, Blair Cruikshank took 22nd in the 500 meters, 28th in the 1,000, 32nd in the 1,500 and was in the Team Sprint event for Team USA at the International Skating Union World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Poland.

Blair Cruikshank originally was a gymnast, but wrist injuries ended her career and she started speed skating in recent years with the hopes of competing in the Winter Olympics in Beijing or the 2026 Games in Italy.


"She's training in Milwaukee in the speed skating oval there at the Pettit Center," Grant Cruikshank said. "She made the Olympic trials for the previous Olympics. She's trying to make the next Games and if she doesn't, I really think she's going to make the next Games after that."

A leader for the Tigers

Cruikshank is not only competitive, but a leader for the Tigers. He's been the team's captain each of the past two seasons and has 28 goals and 43 points in 81 college games.

"Grant does a lot of the little things right," said Colorado College coach Mike Haviland, who is a former minor league head coach and former assistant coach in the NHL. "He tough on pucks, he back pressures, the way he prepares for a game, the way he takes care of himself after a game — he leads this team on and off the ice. We have such a young group (12 freshmen, seven sophomores) and we've got a good group.

"They're learning the standards from Grant and the upperclassmen. Grant does all the details the right way in his preparation, practice habits ... Grant doesn't do anything but hard and that's what you want from your leader. It trickles down and we're starting to see that from everybody."

Cruikshank leads the Tigers with 27 shots on goal and is a team-leading plus-5.

"I have to use my speed to create turnovers and put pressure on the other team's players, particularly their defensemen," said Cruikshank, who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 186 pounds. "I certainly think that I can put the puck in the back of the net and find those soft areas. Especially for this team, I think I show that work ethic and compete every game. There's a lot of different areas that I try to bring to the table. If I'm not scoring, I want to be great on the (penalty kill) and I want to be great on the forecheck and my details in the 'D' zone. If some of them aren't going my way, I try to do the other things well."


Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com

For more coverage of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities, check out St. Cloud Live.
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