Returning for a break to his parents' Waitarere Beach home is a rare treat for world champion athlete and Olympian Peter Michael.

The long track ice speed skater and multiple world champion inline speed skater spends most of his time in Europe where an intensive competing schedule keeps him busy, however a recent fortnight back in Horowhenua was a welcome chance to recharge his batteries.

Michael spends most of the year in Heerenveen, the Dutch city where a large ice stadium draws many skaters who live in the area and train.

He has focused on ice skating for the last few years, with the lure of the Winter Olympics a common cause for skaters changing from inline to ice, however his inline career has also been stellar and he has won a slew of gold, silver and bronze medals at world events.

FAST: Peter Michael in action.
FAST: Peter Michael in action.

Last year Michael made it to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, narrowly missing out on a medal and taking fourth place in both the 5000 metres and team pursuit ice speed-skating events.

Since then he has competed in marathon skating events, powering through races of a staggering 42 kilometres or 125 laps of the ice track and taking four bronze medals at the KPN Marathon event in Holland.

He also recently qualified for and competed at another world championship event, but didn't achieve to his full potential due to a shortened training timeframe and the event being moved forward to a time when he was still expecting to be on holiday in New Zealand.

"That took its toll," he said.

However, despite the occasional rocky patch, Michael's climb to full-time, professional skater and now Olympic athlete, has been supercharged.

It all began when, as a young child in Palmerston North, he decided to get into inline hockey.

Michael signed up for practices in the sport, but on the first day his mum accidentally took him to the wrong hall for hockey and he ended up joining in a speed-skating session instead, where he firmly caught the bug.

From there, he quickly progressed to national and then junior world events.


"By my 20s I had done everything possible in inline," Michael said.

"I tried ice - at the start I didn't really like it, it was quite difficult, trying a new sport, but I stuck though with it."

However, despite his initial reservations, the skater shot to the top of his field, qualifying for the Winter Olympics, where he competed individually and with the Kiwi team.

"The Olympics had its ups and downs," he said.

"A lot of things were new to me."

Now focused on the 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in China, Michael trains twice a day, Monday to Saturday, for several hours each session, completing a mix of resistance exercise in skating position, cycling and gym work, as well as inline skating in summer, and ice track work.

Finding time to relax can be tricky.

"Training takes a lot of time," he said.

"I really enjoy TV shows and movies. And I game a bit."

Kiwi speed skating champion and Olympian Peter Michael.
Kiwi speed skating champion and Olympian Peter Michael.

Michael said he is lucky to be able to travel back to New Zealand sometimes to have a bit of down time and stay with his parents in Horowhenua.

With at least another decade of competing in speed skating and the 2022 Winter Olympics in his sights though, it's unlikely the 29-year-old will be moving back permanently any time soon.

"I've got some business to do first," he said.