World cup level short track is amazingly exciting, so much so, it’s easy to forget as a spectator the effort & stress the athletes experience to give us thrills from the stands.
I was near the waiting area during the 1500m heats, and was struck by the stony, inward focused silence of those awaiting their race, and the audible whimpering & painful coughing from those who had just raced.
Here is a a 1500m semi-final just hitting warp speed, an international traffic jam into a corner. These guys have some serious skillz!
A tiny moment later out of this crowded corner explodes Hamelin of Canada, Germany, Korea, Levielle of the USA, Britain, Hungary, & Russia.
This action is happening so fast & so quick these days, it looks like the UCI refs have an instant replay system (a great idea). The operator here had a dial he was moving back & forth reviewing the contact between two skaters frame by frame. Note the high tech cardboard “hood”
Travis Jayner, calm & focused among the traffic, pulled off one of the most amazing series of rapid-fire passes I have ever seen. Almost last place here 3 laps to go, then through the burning traffic up to second by the finish in his 1500m semi-final.
Jeff Simon won a bronze medal in the men’s 1,500 meters & Kimberly Derrick turned in a Bronze medal performance in the 1000m. She skated super aggressively, leading the amazing Chinese and Korean skaters as often as she could. To my eyes, US women really seem to like skating from the front, & use raw fitness & power as much as they can to blunt the amazing finishing speed of the Koreans & Chinese.
Due to the media hurricane that follows Apolo everywhere, his fall in the 1000m final attracted much mention. It must feel strange for him at times, being the calm eye in a howling media hurricane. Does he ever wonder, as the Beatles did occasionally, if he is only one out there who has not lost his mind?
Here is his fall, frame by frame. I can’t tell if he hit a rut, if the ice blew away under the pressure, or he booted out.
He hit the wall so hard that professional camera equipment that was resting on the top of it flew everywhere.
What I admire about Apolo’s skating in the World Cup on this day, is not something you will read about in the papers.
His skates were messed up by his impact with the wall. Anthony Lobello told me that in the locker rooms, they were “wailing on his blades with a hammer,” trying to make them skateable before the 5,000m relay semi-final.
Deep into that race, Apolo was obviously struggling with broken equipment he could not trust, he was out of balance & unable to get his best push. You could see it on his face.
The German & British teams were breathing down his neck. Along with Anthony, Jeff & Travis, he still had the determination to hang on & qualify for the relay finals (kudos to Anthony who gave a brilliant relay tag to Apolo, to move the US from 3rd to 2nd at a crucial moment). Jeff looked absolutely freaky strong, & the finals tomorrow will be awesome. Korea, USA, Canada & a surprising Russia.
Ok, I gotta run/ride, I need to get in my own workout before another day in the stands.
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