Singing in the Rain, Part II

I am really glad people liked the video my brother and I put together. I somehow can’t stop humming “Singing in the Rain”, even though I am back in Salt Lake and it’s pouring snow.

It’s worth the few minutes it takes on YouTube to watch the original Gene Kelly version. Or if you really must have all your action on ice, check out Kurt Browning’s figure skating remake of it!

It’s awesome to see both of these artist/athletes at the top of their game… Here is a YouTube hint my brother showed me, when you are starting a video, click on the box in the lowest right hand corner of the box to get the full screen view!

I am not exaggerating when I say how wet, foggy & sloppy it was for the first day of the Jack Shea, the video was almost entirely shot during the 15 minutes the sun peeked out. I just was emailed probably the best picture I have ever seen of me skating and it shows the conditions quite well. The wake rushing off my left foot looks like a torpedo near miss.

Thanks Mike and Lori for this shot! They are photographers who run Shadowcatcher LTD, and have images of many of the athletes racing. They are available for hire for speedskating meet photography on the east coast. They are good folks and I wish them luck.

Mike raced speedskates on the lake Placid track in 1966-67 when it was just a high school running track, and has recently returned to the sport. Here is Mike in the mid-60’s, and then this past weekend.

Singing in the Rain

Ah, the character building nature of outdoor speedskating. Nothing like it in the world! After the snow of last week, this weekend’ s Jack Shea Sprints were raced in pouring rain, dense fog, and a lot of water on the ice.

And that turned out to be a good thing, outdoor ice can be awfully fast when there is standing water on top of it, and the warm temperatures were very comfortable.

This was a very different crowd than Nationals a few weeks ago. The Jack Shea race is very club-centric, low key, friendly, and with skaters ranging in age from 6 to 72. A smorgasbord of fantastic folks from the east coast skate tribe.

Here are some video highlights I put together, with music that I found karmicly appropriate to the day. Click here for a high quality quicktime video, or if you can’t see that, start the youtube clip below.

Thanks are due to my brother, who shot some of the footage here, provided hours of invaluable help during editing, and also pegs me with a snowball halfway through the video.

Exotic indoor bird

My coach from last year used to say:

When you skate indoors all the time, you become this exotic indoor bird, excellent at skating indoors, but eventually it becomes very hard to skate outdoors.

Boris was sooooo right. I’d like to think of myself as a rough & tough alumni of Lake Placid, but omigosh, it’s freaking COLD!

I have turned into a lightly feathered indoor bird.… I even forgot my hat my first day skating there.

You can forget your hat at the Salt Lake indoor oval and not endanger your health/suffer permanent damage. Lake Placid is different. Thanks to long time speedskater Mike Miller for loaning me his red one.

Tree Project

The following entry has NOTHING to do with speedskating.

Legions of trees surround us. So many that we mostly see a “forest” instead of individuals; But this individual tree, on route 17 at the Vermont/New York border caught my eye.

It has a wonderful shape, expressive enough that farmer who cleared this field & the road crew who paved this road left it in place as they tore down all the others. Repeatedly, choice has allowed this tree to survive & flourish.

After taking this first picture, every time I drove by it on my way to Lake Placid, I snapped more. Sometimes facing the Adirondacks, sometimes the green mountains of Vermont.

I never stopped, just snapped as I drove… Here are a few of these images:

We have things in common with this tree;

The weather changes, the light changes, the road past sometimes busy, sometimes deserted.

Seasons spiral by, and we hope for a sweet light when the next fellow with a chainsaw glances in our direction.

Recent pictures

All of these images are from the past 2 weeks:

This is the podium for the 2nd day women’s 1000m. An interesting trio graces the podium: 5-time Olympian Chris Witty, 2 time Olympian Elli Ochowicz, and “young gun” Mia Manganello. The overall for the women’s sprint champs was Ochowicz, Witty, and Jessica Smith (click here for that photo)

Kip Carpenter & Tucker Fredericks finished 1-2 in the sprint championships Here is Kip taking a “drink” out of the very cool vase awarded for winning the sprint national championship. 3rd place was Shani Davis, but I think he was stuck downstairs in drug testing during the presentation.

Elli Ochowicz with her vase from winning the overall US sprint national championship. I asked her if she was going to put jelly beans, a plant, or something odd like exotic tropical fish in this vase. She gave me the kind of look I deserved for an idea like that, and graciously smiled for the picture.

(insert mental 956.92 mile jump here, from the heart of cheese-land to the Adirondacks)

Here is the Lake Placid track, with the mountains in the distance. For the evening sessions, speedskaters get the inside half of the track, and hockey-figure skaters the outside.

Of course, Lake Placid being what it is, the very next day it was pouring snow. Luckily extensive snow inhalation is not fatal, just character building.

However racing outdoors in the snow does make you STRONG, Pictured here is a member of the Al & Dave (or is that the Dave & Al??) Connecticut speedskating camp muscling through a 1500m. I am not sure who this is, anyone know?

Speaking of the Al & Dave long track camp, it is one of the wonderful fixtures of the east coast skating scene, and if you ever have attended it, or one of the short track camps in Placid, you know this picture. This is early morning stretching in the warm-up room right next to the 1980 Olympic hockey rink.

Visible in the grey Jacket is 2-time short track Olympian (and NBC commentator) Dan Weinstein. This is his 10th year at the camp, first as a skater, now giving back to the sport as a coach. He is a really good guy, and recently engaged! Congrats Dan!

I also got to race in the blizzards, I skated a 500m, opened in 10.2 and finished with a 39.7 (and it felt like a very technically sound race!). Jim Cornell was showing me this cool software program he uses for coaching that helps technical analysis.

The below images is me about 40m into the 500m. Drawing the angles like this, it was interesting that the knee angle did not change, but my back got flatter as the race went on, eventually messing up my push direction in the last 100m when it reached horizontal.

This is the pile of speedskate rentals at Dimon Sports after a busy day.

This photo was taken as they were returned at 7pm, and they need to be sharpened & ready to go by tomorrow morning! Aaaarrgggh!!

I have actually tried these skates, and these recreational Zandstras are warm, comfy, and can even be clap or fixed with the turn of a lever.