Barthell never set his sights on becoming an Olympics skater. His goal was to skate fast enough to qualify for the Olympic trials.
"I think I finished 20th, and by four or five-tenths of a second I missed out on the Top 16," he said. "But for me, it was a victory. For me to get where I was at the age I was, I thought was pretty decent."
The FAST program provided Barthell with a fast track into coaching. He was offered a position with program's speedskating team, which led to him being named coach of the U.S. Junior World Short Track Team in 2012.
Two years later, he was an as assistant coach at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He moved to Australia the following year to run that country's short track national team.
"I loved it, Australia reminded me of a super laid-back U.S.," he said. "I would definitely move back there."
But for now, Barthell is savoring the Olympic moment in South Korea and loving the influx of skaters of color like Biney, Griffin and Erin Jackson, who'll become the first African American female Olympic long track speedskater when the Winter Games begin.
"This is, for me, is a huge step," he said. "Having black athletes and the black community being able to see and say 'We can get on the ice, we can learn how to skate, we can end up being up here just like Maame, Shani Davis, Erin Jackson.' That's the biggest thing."
(c)2018 McClatchy Washington Bureau
Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at www.mcclatchydc.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.