Eddy Alvarez To Join Elite Company With Medals At Both Summer, Winter Olympics
TOKYO – Eddy Alvarez is about to get inducted into a select group of Olympians.
In the history of the Olympics only five people have ever won a medal in both the summer and winter games.
Come Saturday that number will be six.
Eddy Alvarez, a former baseball player at Salt Lake Community College, is guaranteed to come home from Tokyo with a medal after Team USA plays Japan in the gold medal game.
Dual Sport Athlete
Alvarez, who currently plays professional baseball in Florida, already has a silver medal at home. He earned that as a speedskater at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia.
Throughout his life, he has gone back and forth between baseball and skating. His initial love for inline skating turned into ice skating and by the age of eleven, Alvarez had won national age-group titles in the sport.
“When you grow up what do you want to be?”, someone asks a very young Alvarez in a video he posted to Instagram. Alvarez answers, “An Olympic skater.”
Alvarez also loved baseball and played through high school, earning a full scholarship to St. Thomas University. He turned down the offer to chase that childhood dream.
“It’s something I’ve always done since I was a kid,” Alvarez told KSL in 2014. “I’ve always had to choose between sports.”
Using Baseball To Reset
When he failed to make the Olympic team on his first attempt in 2010, he decided to take another break. Staying in Salt Lake City where he’d been training with U.S. Speedskating, Alvarez signed on to play shortstop for the Salt Lake Community College Bruins.
“There was never a day that he didn’t show up to practice ready to go. Never a game that he wasn’t ready to deliver,” said D.G. Nelson, Alvarez’s former Bruins coach.
One year into his time at SLCC, Alvarez’ knees, which had seen years of stress on the ice, needed surgery. He gave up baseball to focus on rehab and then once again decided to go after his Olympic dream.
— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) July 22, 2021
“He was very, very devoted to what he needed to do,” said Alvarez’s former U.S. speedskating coach Steve Gough.
Alvarez made the 2014 U.S. short-track speedskating team and while his individual races didn’t go as he’d hoped, he helped secure the silver medal in the 4-man relay.
Describing what it felt like to complete at the Olympics, he compared his experience to a high-stakes moment in baseball during an interview with KSL in Sochi.
“9th inning, you’re down by two, tying run is on second and you know, there’s two outs and it’s a 3-2 count,” he said. “You’ve got to let that bat fly.”
“His passion just can’t be hidden,” said Nelson of his former player.
Two Different Skill Sets
It takes talent and drive to excel enough in a sport to earn an Olympic medal. It takes something else to excel to that level in two sport. Particularly when those two sports are so different.
“Short-track speedskating and baseball. It couldn’t be further apart,” said Gough. “This is like pomegranates and avocadoes.”
Despite the distinct physical differences between the two sports, Gough said Alvarez likely found parts of his training in speedskating transferred to the ball field.
“I have no doubt that the training for speedskating, the mental component, was a huge asset to him in his baseball journey,” he said.
Months after returning from his medal-winning trip to Russia, Alvarez signed his first professional baseball contract. In August 2020 he made his MLB debut and in May 2021 he was named to the United States National Baseball Team. After the team officially qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, Alvarez was named to the roster July 2.
Team USA advanced Thursday to the gold medal game where they will face Japan. His former coaches will be cheering him on from Utah.
One more win for 🥇⚾️
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) August 5, 2021
“We know he’s got a medal,” said Gough. “I just hope he gets to hear the song. We just came up short in 2014 so hopefully he’ll have a chance to hear the anthem and be on the top of the podium.”