Zen and the Art of Speedskating

January 5, 2011

40

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 2:14 pm

I turned 40 at 1:05pm today—

So much is made of age, on all sides of the statement spectrum- Age is all in your head, it’s a state of mind, you are how old you think you are::::::

But your body tells you in so many ways that you are not 25 anymore. There are pure facts, as visible as your aging face, that no amount of positive thinking can drive away.

The mirror is still a shock at times. The mental image of self & the physical reality skew and do not cohere. I hate how my face wrinkles when I smile.

40… meh…

Speedskating is the best of sports, and the cruelest of sports. It lifts you up like nothing else on the best days, and it also breaks your heart over and over and over.

I was pretty freaked out this summer about 40. Such a big number— however this past weekend of racing my 8th US Speedskating nationals has answered my existential crisis.

I threw down my fastest 500m in 3 years. It felt fantastic.

I am younger in body and soul after what the electronic eye said. Who cares where I finished, I was faster vs me. Maybe this is the gift of skating. Not even in the results, but the path of health to get there.

This blog is quiet now, between fatherhood and a job I love, + trying to train + my organizational work with races + US Speedskating + masters stuff in the USA, + IMSSC international stuff, I have no time. None. Zero.

I call this “microwaving the midnight oil candle at both ends”.

This post was started in the dark, at 6:15am, before my wife was awake. And this year at nationals, I just couldn’t bear to take pictures & shoot video like I have done for 5 seasons in a row. There would be no time to do anything with them.

I miss it. Miss these moments of taking a deep breath, and looking with words, as surely as Tom DiNardo, Jerry Search, and Richard Gregerson look with the pictures visible in this post (thanks guys!!!)

Last backstretch of a 1000m race visible here. major ouch.. But technically, nose, knee, toe, and the body properly over the push. I had a major “wardrobe malfunction” in this race with my skinsuit zipper, but skated a very fast time.

I would rather have these clarifying moments in life, where pain becomes that focused smile, than ruminate about it.

Someone asked me a while ago, “dang Andrew, how old are you?” and I replied without thinking, “I’m younger than I was in June”.

It took me a while to figure out what the heck I had just said.

I think that getting in better shape, & training for goals, makes a fella younger, puts that spring in the step. Is is hard? heck yeah…

But immobile couch-suck-TV-squashy depression becomes so much harder…

And I have gotten younger and younger, happier and happier, as this year has gone on. Do I respect being 40? yup. But I also want to rock, and still know where the amp & guitar is.

Thanks Speedskating, maybe this is the lesson, right here. Today. 40

(gotta run, am skating 40 laps with friends tonight!)

March 22, 2010

30 stitches, glass half-full

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 5:09 pm

60+ bicycle racers at the start- by the time we were ripping towards the final turn of the race, there were still 40+ in it to win it. The pack was boiling back and forth across the road like a scalded snake.

Earlier: Sounds of coffee percolating, was on baby duty last night, I question if I should race this afternoon. Woozy on my feet. Pot ‘O coffee 1 does not do the trick. Pot ‘O coffee #2, and I feel moderately better.

Am in 5th position, feeling solid, clipping along at 32mph, saved lots of energy to spend in this push to the line. The pack surges on every side, suddenly I’m in 25th place. Crap! Cyclists fill the road curb to curb at full power towards the final corner.

Earlier: New race wheels, new pedals, the balance point of my bike just feels a little different during warmup-, or maybe it’s just my lack of sleep headache- maybe I should not race today—

In the final 160 degree turn I am on the extreme inside of the pack, passing people, the rider in front of me crashes, I lean deeper and make it past, on the absolute limit of traction.. The leading riders are out of the turn, going straight and begin to sprint, Still leaning hard, I get out of the saddle and start hitting the big gear to catch them.

Earlier: That little voice starts again: I’m getting old, crits are dangerous, why do I love doing this so much?

My front wheel folds, I flip over the handlebars, and smash headfirst into the pavement at race velocity

Sunglasses shatter and my helmet cracks

Right shoulder digs into the asphalt and my elbow gashes through arm warmers-

Back, hips, and ass slam into the pavement, like a flyswatter.

Numb, spinning, disoriented, full body shock. Sounds of the race wizzing by, sounds of more crashes, yelling. Then silence.

This is not happening. Total sensation too powerful to speak or move. Crushing… I can…. breathe… again… ohhhh…

Others on the ground as well. I see blood on the pavement. Blood on my hands, My face? Where is it coming from?

After a few minutes I sit upright, the EMTs are there. Peeling off my arm warmer already stiff with dirt & blood, copious amounts of skin are stuck to the inside.

So that’s where I am cut. So many friends come riding over to me. Blur of faces.

Are you ok? Do you need a ride home? Wow Andrew, that’s gonna need some stitches!..

One offers that he did this as well last year, did not notice his concussion until his drive home. Chris Needham is about to start his first bike race today. Takes one look at me, asks if I am ok, then they call him to the line.

Strangers I don’t know come up, asking if I am alright. One fellow says “wow, did you clip a pedal? your rear wheel went straight up into the air before you slammed down!!”

Under an hour later, am in the ER, getting soaked & scrubbed.

The crash was my own damm fault. Maybe tiredness, maybe the different balance point of my new wheels, but I got out of the saddle too early, maybe I was thrown off by that crash right in front of me. But it was rider error. Stupid

A few more pedal strokes seated, finishing the turn, I would have been fine–

But really, what is to be learned? Maybe only that I need to be kinder to myself when sleep deprived. I am not young enough to bull through it, not when high speeds are involved.

My wife never said “Why the hell do you do this to yourself”. She understands, and accepts this part of me that is completed by racing. By trying hard, and sometimes failing, sometimes even falling.

She and the awesome ER doc had a great time comparing stitching techniques as I was being sewn up. I felt like a valued knitting project.

I’ve felt almost no pain from this nasty looking gash. A lot of other things hurt more, getting off the table after an hour of lying down, my hips and sternum were screaming at me. I never felt the needle.

There is a line between injuries and owies, and this is a very nasty owie.

If I draw my perspective correctly, it fills my glass half-full, and if I learn a lesson from this, hug my daughter a little tighter and cherish my wife a little more, the glass will be all the way full.

But right now, I need to heal.

March 5, 2010

Masters Allaround Worlds, Day 3

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 4:18 pm

Masters worlds is much more than just the racing. It’s also the people you share it with.

For example, here is the amazing Arne Kjell Foldvik, cheering on another Norwegian. Arne is in the 75-80 category. I asked him how many are competing in the 75+, he said with a huge grin “3 survivors!”. Arne trains a lot with 10-15 year olds.

Arne is as sunny in his outlook on life as the morning conditions were on the ice.

A 3 day allaround is a long meet, and it’s not just a physical contest, it’s a contest of emotions and expectations, the battle on the ice and the one in your own heart. (Final results of all this heart-effort, are here)

And heart is what is needed to race a 5k hard. Finnish sprinter Pertti Kiiskinen has a lot of heart, and a good pain face, 3 laps to go! (nice pictures Jess!)

His father Pentti also was racing, finishing 3rd in the 65 category.

One of the tightest races, as expected was the USA’s Marty Haire vs the Jan Duif from the Netherlands in the Men’s 45+.

As it has over the past 2 years, it came down to the 5k, this is where Marty has proven stronger. They matched each other stride for stride.

Jan put in a surge, in the crossover, Marty had to give way & stood up for a moment.

Jan hit the warp speed button, and swung his arm in the straightaway for the last 6 laps. FINALLY finishing ahead of Marty. You can see how close each race was in the results.

Jan came across the finish line a burning mess. Totally spent, and so happy.

In my own race, I tried to go out easy, and then pick up the speed halfway through. My pair, Thomas Roste of Norway, went out hard. Here he is, pulling away-

I have just been passed by the other pair, Thor Olav Teveter and Ard Neven. Who went on to finish 1st & 2nd.

I tried to hit it hard here, and for a lap, I dropped my lap time from a 39 to a 37, but then my legs blew to bits, and I crawled to the finish line. Dropping from 3rd to 5th overall.

Norwegian Masters Speedskating co-ordinator Sven-Aage Svensson or Norway. Coaching. He was not skating this year, but was still there for the strong Norwegian contingent.

Note his surgical booties, gripping the ice.

Did I say how strongly Norway loves it’s skaters? Here is an example:

These masters are true fans. It was quite the experience to watch the EuroSport coverage of the Olympics, in a room full of Finns & Norwegians, talking trash about their cross country skiers.

As the 5ks began to wind down. Jessica & I took a walk into the town of Baselga di Pine. It’s pretty quiet.

But it does have all the good things- skating, skiing, camping, sleeping, pizza, and coffee.

Ragnvald Naess, he won the 3k and 5k, and is on his way to 2nd place in the 55+, showing some old school technique here. You often see this with lifelong skating masters, the old toes up push from fixed blade habits. He does this on the left foot as well.

(more soon, will finish this entry later)

March 3, 2010

Masters Allaround Worlds, Day 1 & 2

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 7:27 am

(on the flight, I did work on my report from Masters Sprint Worlds, almost a month late, but I will publish it this week.)

17 nations, almost 300 athletes. It wasn’t the Olympics, but Baselga di Pine in Italy did a great job hosting Masters Allaround Worlds.

This competition is a wonderful blend of the best Masters athletes, + those who do skating for the pure joy of it, all came together to try their best on the beautiful outdoor ice.

Day 1-

When outdoor weather is great, there is nothing like outdoor racing. However, outdoor skating is often feared, because of conditions like this-

This is the Netherland’s Bram de Vries, fighting through some extreme snow. He is the Dutch Rep to the IMSSC, and has as many ranked masters in his organization as there are speedskaters in the USA.

The weather became rain mixed with snow crusting into a sodden mess on the ice. Marty Haire of the USA keeps his spirits up; because this veteran of Lake Placid & St Foy knows an ancient speedskating secret; you go faster if you smile.

The women got the worst of the conditions. Many were 7 to 10 seconds slower than their 500m PB. Sorry I have no images of that, I did not want to take my camera for a swim.

Things did get gradually better as the day went on. The ice went from almost unskateable to just crappy, then from crappy to almost passable. The snow stopped, and things began to improve.

Vladamir Tkachenko of Russia here, in a skinsuit covered in galaxies, starts to see better ice.

I slipped 3 times during the first 50 meters of my 500, and never really “sat down” into a good skating position after my slips. Here I am passing Dutch goodfella Ard Neven 210 meters into the 500.

Even though I won the 500 in my age group, I really needed to put 3+ seconds on talented all-rounders like Ard in the 500m. In this race, it was only 1.6 seconds, and Ard would make up more than that deficit in the 3k & 5k. I skated a great 3k (well, great for me), so had hope for the 1500 tomorrow.

But really, I lost my realistic shot at the podium during my best event. Funny how sports work.

Italian Sylvia Tassara, racing a 1500m past rain soaked pads. There is some physics thing happening here with her push direction of her foot, and the pointing of her hand.

As the Men’s categories began their 3,000m races the clouds lifted to reveal beautiful soaked & frozen mountains, (click on image for a larger one).

I think this is a German skater, in matching green fast suit & boot covers. The central building behind him was wonderful. Locker rooms, full bar/café. Indoor rink, etc (click on image for a bigger one).

One of the matchups everyone was waiting for this meet was Dutch Skater Jan Duif and American Marty Haire. These two phenomenal athletes had gone toe-to-toe for the past 2 years in a row, with Marty coming out on top both times.

After the 500m and 3,000m on day 1, they were practically tied. Amazing.

Day 2

WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!

Here is one of the top Dutch women driving off the line with relaxed power during a 1500m under bright sun. The early morning condtions were great.

A lot of 1500m races on tap today. The pain cave of the 1500. You can see the intensity of the sun in the shadow of this Dutch skater

Canadian Randy Plett skating phenomenally all weekend. Here he chases Russian Boris Orlov in a 1500m, they solidified their placings in 3rd & 4th overall out of the 20 competitors in 45-50

Jon Gauslaa from Norway. Some athletes do this funny thing with their tongue at maximal effort. Greg Lemond was well known for it. Jon shows it here.

There should be a name for this technique. PowerTounge?

Jan & Marty were paired in the 1500m, the whole rink went beserk watching another tremendous battle, Jan’s raw speed vs Martys short-track endurance.

They traded leads several times, and had another tie at the finish line!!!

My own 1500m was not so good. I overcooked the start, and was cooked on the last lap. Instead of taking time out of the Allarounders, I lost a full second. Meh.

Tiredness comes in so many flavors, we need more words to properly describe it.

You can be happy tired, discouraged tired, inspired tired, or just crusty tired. I have long said that Masters speedskating allows an individual to experience this sport any way their hearts direct them. It’s the best blend.

You can be serious, or not, and if you are tired & discouraged, no one begrudges you a few glasses of wine at the end of a long, hard day of skating.

In fact, when it comes to Masters Skating, they will pour the glass for you, and join in freindly conversation. Somehow, that makes tiredness all the sweeter.

February 2, 2010

American Masters Allaround & Sprint

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 11:41 pm

Yaknow what makes me really happy. The international family at a MASTERS speedskating event!

Just look at this mix of people & nations! (image grab is from the results)

So many good folks came over from Europe & North America to experience the fast ice of Salt Lake city.

So many interesting people & stories; Here is one of them.

Look closely at the scar on the back of Canadian Randy Plett’s neck-

I made a lot of jokes that this is Canada’s effort at downloading speedskating like that part of “the Matrix” where they downloaded skills through the plug in the back of a person’s neck.

In actuality, Randy crushed the vertebrae in his neck in a bike racing crash this summer. The doctors told Randy he would never skate again-

Not only is Randy back, but is also skating stronger than he has ever been on the ice!

Amazing.

American Brian Boudreau was also displaying matrix-like skills, including the fastest 1000m EVER at a masters event. Here he is ripping by the crowd at 35mph.

then after the day was over, surrounded by Dutch freinds, and the sparkly Italian, Sylvia Tassara.

Eva Rodansky’s days of full time training are far behind her. Now she manages a lab at the University of Utah. As I joked with her, now she is a true master, she has a professional job, and skates when she can.

Even so, Eva still can bring it, and set records in the women 30-35 category 500, 1000 & 1500m

Just look at the form of these two athletes for a moment. These are serious speedskaters, who really know what they are doing.

That is 60 year old Marian Furst from Salt Lake and 55 year old Joke Wittenberg of the Netherlands.

I’ve always thought that one of the hardest age groups to be in, in all of speedskating, is the older Master women. Simply because there are so few of them, so few “true peers” to race with, to talk with.

Marian told me during warmup skate on friday, surrounded by other masters, she did not feel so alone.

To know Olu is to love Olu. Here he is, on his way to a 1000m personal best. This powerlifting world champion is having a mixed year of results so far, but is ready for some breakout races.

RZ on the slideboard, imitating what she sees her daddy doing. She is not facing the right direction, but she is smiling, and that is more important than technique for a little kid! (and for most adults too…)

Nat White set the Allaround Short (500-1000-1500-3000) samalong record. He is the proud father of a 4 month old Jasper, and also has recently made a big jump in technique, to complete skating badass.

I present this image as visual evidence- What is even more impressive is he set his record after a night of food poisoning. His races were very consistent-

Tom Cole from the Midland club & Dutch skater Stephan Tellier from the Lekstreek club had a great battle in a 1000m race. Den Haag vs Petosky. Who won this 1000m duel? Tom came roaring back in the final turn, and it was almost a dead heat at the line, both skated personal bests.

(Stephan, do I have that right? or do you skate in Den Haag?)

Victor van den Hoff of the Netherlands is a hard guy to take a picture of. He is too damm fast. He also had a great weekend, taking multiple records on the fast ice. Victor uses the new Marchese LT blades as well.

When I congratulated him, he smiled and said “Well, I did move up in an age group“.

I have had senior skaters tell me that they are looking forward to turning 30, and racing masters events now, because of seeing guys like Victor tear it up.

Norwegian Nina Torset, with her son, and then rocking out the last lap of a 3k masters record.

Like Eva, Nina pretty much re-wrote the record book in the 35-40 age category.

Both Nina and Nat show that loving moms & Dad’s can also be cruise missiles of areodynamic speed. Nina used to train in Calgary, and has the technique to show for her years of deadication to the sport.

From Left to right, Vladimir Letunov, Boris Leikin, Sergej Avdejev, and yours truly.

I met Sergej Avdejev many years ago, skating together in the blizzards of Inzell. He and I have crossed paths at many masters events, and always greet each other warmly.

I do not speak a word of Russian, and Sergej does not speak a word of english. But that is ok, we share a language of skating, and the deep respect that comes from it.

December 13, 2009

SLC world cup day 2

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 8:42 pm

Sitting at my desk at work, I missed day 1 of the world cup; Missed Jenny Wolf’s 500m womans world record, as well as Shani’s otherworldly 1500m WR (1:41!!!!!!). But rain & snowstorms notwithstanding, I was there for Day 2!!

German Jenny Wolf & Chinese skater Wang Beixing are OWNING the women’s 500m this year. This is a great rivalry of contrasting styles. Jenny has tremendous explosive power & knee drive off the line, but Wang has Wotherspoon-esque leg extension & technique.

These are not beautiful “skating” pictures, but show Jenny’s power & straight-line knee drive as she explodes off the line, and Wang’s top speed leg extension in the last 50 meters of the 500.

Like Jenny Wolf, Russian Dimitri Lobkov has one of those outrageous fast twitch starts.. I also feel for his lack of control at the very highest speeds (been there myself).

In frame #2, you can see his boot touching the ice. He had some time to think about this before he slammed into the wall. He is going about 36-37mph here, and luckily was fine.

Fentong Yu… coiled pure power here. I have loosely based my own starting style on his. I once followed him for a lap in Calgary, his hips were so stable on the turn entry, It was a clinic on “this is how it should be done”.

If there is someone out there who speaks Chinese & knows Fentong. Tell him “thanks” for the technical inspiration.

Tucker Fredericks is really ON right now for the 500m. He had a slip in the first turn, and still was 3rd. When the 0-show happens, Tucker is going to be in the mix for some hardware.

Korea took the top 2 step of the men’s podium, they are flying this year.

In the women’s 1500m, Jen Rodriguez skated a new American record, and was good for 3rd place. Awesome. She will also be in the hunt for the hardware.

This is not a “pretty” skate picture, as the moment of full extension is the “pretty moment”. But it is at this moment where the left skate is carving into the turn, and has greatest pressure, this ugly moment is what really makes you go fast.

Jen Rodriguez skated a new American record. Awesome, 3rd place to 2 flying Canadians, Christene Nesbitt & Kristina Groves.

Here there are, 300m into the 1500, at that crucial transition step into turn #2. The Canadian women are skating amazingly this year.

Except for the top 2, this is a very tight results board.

Men’s 5,000m

I have seen Chad skate a lot of races over the years. I’ve become convinced that his gift is that he is an artist of pain.

Chad goes for very fast early lap times, and pays hard for it by the finish. Most skaters do look like this in the final turn, but Chad still has 4 laps to go here!

And here with his sweet daughter Hadley afterwards. Chad just signed a sponsorship deal with Pampers!

I can spot that smitten daddy smile anywhere, now that I know what it feels like…

But the awesome race of the day must have been from Italian Enrico Fabris. He is my favorite technical skater since Casey Fitzrandolph retired.

Here is how he zig-zags down the straight, generating maximum power from his lean into each push. The last image is Shani chasing. Such a rare image, to see Shani chasing someone.

Enrico, I plan on skating Masters World Champs later this year in Italy. Every practice, I work on exactly this style of zig-zag straightaway pressure during my warmup, so I can survive these 5k’s you have mastered with this physical artistry.

October 5, 2009

.24 & .39 of failure

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 10:44 am

I went as hard as I could, threw down my best race, and missed the 1000m Olympic trials qualifying time by .24 on Sunday, and .39 seconds on Saturday. It hurt, a lot, and I am not talking about race pain.

I will have my final chance to qualify next weekend. I know I will be skating faster than the qualifying time of 1:16.08 soon, but maybe not soon enough.

Pictured below is my transition into corner #3 on Saturday. Given my 27.2 second lap time, this is roughly 33 mph. Shoulders square, good lean & drive. Technically, this was about as good as I can do. I did have a lactic-acid train wreck on the last 200m of this race, but that is the 1000.

I should not be as hyper-competitive about this as I am. Only 22 men in the USA have skated faster than the qualifying time this season, and they are all full time athletes whose job is speedskating.

I do work a lot, and have Daddy responsibilities on top of that. But yaknow, the forces that drive athletes spring from irrational wells within us. My mind knows I’m only about 1 second slower in the 1k than I was when I was training full time. My heart, however, is stupid.

It’s not age, I’m sure of that, this season more than ever. The hard thing is creating the time to train & prepare the very complex puzzle pieces that create a fast speedskating race.

One really good thing about being a Dad is that after the races, when I was feeling like burned crap, I hear this familiar squeak from the edge of the rink. I went and picked up my daughter, and skated a lap with her, making zoomy airplane noises.

She was so happy, and did not want me to stop. It lifted my spirits hugely. Thanks for being there RZ, your joy is so much more than any skate-induced pain.

September 13, 2009

150 meters of imperfection

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 10:38 am

Before I mention my disastrous first race of the year, here is Elli Ochowicz, showing dryland perfection. She has 10 years on the world cup circuit, and barring unforeseen catastrophe, will make her 3rd Olympic team in short order.

This is some impressive dryland balance & super deep sitting by this 3-time USA sprint champion– she was doing this with such slow motion precision you could have balanced a glass of fine merlot on her shoulders. Note the extended foot is off the ground too. Ouch.

There was “early season” racing at the Utah oval, and even though I know I should not be upset at how awful my 1000m was, as it is still September, but I’ve been working too damm hard to skate like I did.

On paper, I should be able to skate the 1:16.08 to qualify for Olympic trials in the 1000m. I’ve already qualified in the 500m, but I don’t want to be a one-dimensional athlete, even though over and over, this is what my body tells me I am. So I train hard for the 1000m out of bull-headed determination.

In the race itself, I rushed my start & first corner, had 3 major slips in the first 150 meters, skated my slowest 200m opener EVER, and my hopes for the time I needed disappeared before the race was 16 seconds old. It wasn’t my body, it was execution of technique under pressure. The final time hurt more emotionally than the intense physical pain of the race. 1:18.7

(insert appropriate 4 letter word here, repeated over and over… I am really pissed at myself, this is 6 seconds slower than my PB, and at least 3 seconds slower that what I expect from myself for a 1000m while under a training load)

I should have lifted on Saturday after racing, but the muscles where my hips join my back are completely shredded/sore/aching. So instead of risking injury in the weight room, I’m taking the weekend off, concentrating on family, and the mental/visualization/positive attitude aspects of racing.

So hand me that glass of Merlot, I need to picture that perfect race, over and over.

What percentage of speedskating is mental execution of technique under pressure? What percentage physical? If you are an athlete, be honest with yourself about this.

Now be honest with yourself about your division of TIME you invest between these two aspects of a racing performance.

I am failing right now.. The body is about 90% there, the mind is not. Just a couple of weeks to turn it around.

March 21, 2009

Champions Challenge Day 1 notes

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 7:50 am

For the first time in 4 years, I am not racing the Champions Challenge. Other things are going on that are more important than racing.

But I did take a few hours to watch the first day of racing. Around 100 athletes are racing.

This is the busiest I have seen the oval for a USA-centric race since Olympic trials. Catching up with so many of the good folks of the Midwest & East coast skate tribe is just life affirming & the racing is very exciting.

Yes I miss the sport, but I miss the people just as much.

I do plan on doing a video, but something happened at the races Saturday that deserves mention (and I am walking out the door in 10 minutes to go watch today’s action).

Bruce Conner, at 53 years young, qualified for the 2009 Olympic trials in the 500m! Skating a huge PB & mid 38 second 500m.

His final 100m technique looks the same as his opening 100m.

(bruce is just breathing in hard during this split second, really he is a trim guy)

We talked after his races, that we do this sport because it is so hard, and the rewards are so few. 98% is just pure determination and effort.

But on those 2% days, like Bruce had today, Nothing is as rewarding!

What he is doing on skates is so astonishingly hard, for any age, Bruce, you are an inspiration to us all.

March 10, 2009

DiNardo World Cup #1

Filed under: RACE DAY — andrew @ 9:56 pm

Tom DiNardo’s high quality work got him one of the coveted photography passes, so he can watch the world cup through the lens of a camera.

He sent me a number of fantastic images-

Men’s 500m

This is Tucker Fredricks ripping thought the last turn of his 3rd place finish in the 500m.

I notice 2 things in this photo, Tucker is exhaling forcefully at this moment, that helps in power & relaxation, and also you can see the lane markers reflected in his glasses.

Women’s 1000m

Here is US national Sprint Champion Heather Richardson ripping it hard through a turn in the 1000.

There is an aesthetic moment in the speed skating stroke, when the leg is extended like this, that is completely distinctive and says “SPEED SKATING” even in the barest outline.

Full extension is not an absolute necessity for going fast on a clap blade. I could point out numerous world records set without full extension, but it sure is pretty.

The US Speedskating Logo is this moment. Heather does it tremendously well here. I have heard a long standing rumor that the skater on the US speedskating logo is actually from a photo of a Canadian woman. Someone should replace that with an outline of Heather here.

Not that there is anything wrong with superfast Canadian women, they do rock. But speaking of fast Canadian women, here is Kristina Groves, ripping it up on her way to a fine 6th place finish in the 1k.

Men’s 1500m

In all the years of sports I have done, NOTHING hurts like the last lap of a 1500m. Not a 3 hour bike race over mountains or playing 3 hockey games in one day. A 1500 is truly uniquely awful when you really go for it right from the gun.

Here is Trevor Marsicano, I bet he is in the last turn here. Ouch.

And these Next two images are of Shani, unlike Trevor, his expression tells me this is in the first half of his race.

Shani is a consummate technician, I called him a true Jedi in an earlier post, and I stand by that. His style is specific to his long limbs, but there is much to be learned here from how his shoulders & hips are set.

Jedi example: look how close his left boot is to the ice in the first image, it’s a paper thin margin. But I bet he never boots out (that is when your boots touch the ice during extreme lean angles, and you crash or stumble because of it).

Thanks Tom for these wonderful images!

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