Zen and the Art of Speedskating

February 23, 2007

Day 1, Masters Worlds

Filed under: RACE DAY, on the road — andrew @ 11:05 am

Hello, my name is Olaf, what are your Personal Best times?

-a greeting by one of the Norwegians, to several of the Americans, it made us laugh, actually we discovered some of the Euro’s had researched their American competitors online, and knew all of our times!!

Memories of yesterday’s amazing racing swirl through my mind’s eye like the view through a flamethrower powered kaleidoscope. Today will be no different, so let me get as much down as I can before today’s flamethrower memory machine sparks into life.

Bruce Connor came to this meet a man on a mission, and broke the 500m masters world record for the 50-55 year old age group. How good does that feel? This good!

(are these world records? fairly deep in this old post from last year, here is my take on this, all the euro’s informally call these world records).

Jim Cornell is skating in the deep and strong 32 member field of the 40-45 age group. His Parents came to Calgary to cheer him on, as they have not seen him race in 10 years. It was a good day to catch up. He was 9th in the 500 and 7th in the 3k. As I write these words, a Dutch reporter from Schaatssport is interviewing him because of his ice marathoning success (a Dutch team needs to hire him!!!)

Pat Kelly set another masters world record with a very strong 37.75 500m. He was as smooth as a greased cruise missile on a bobsled run. His face is so relaxed here, 10 meters and 420 meters into his race.

I wish I had captured on film the wonderful ovation the Europeans all gave him, and everyone who set a record. They are true fans, as well as athletes.

Dimon Sports Athlete Jeff Bakal, flying like a reddish Canadian meteor.

Ivar Njos skated several 37 second 500m races at sea level in Hamar this year, and was my odd’s on favorite to pop out a 36 second 500 here in Calgary. He opened his 500m with a very strong 10.14, but slipped on the backstretch & ended up with a 38.3.

Speedskating requires a blend of propreceptive technique and a fit body to apply it. Ivar Njos has both, and like many of the Euros, has no inhibitions about changing right in front of everyone.

It does not bug me, but I still do a repressed American double take when I see it, especially when women do it (and I did ask Ivar for permission to publish this shot).

Steve Desotell suffered possibly the worst announcer mispronunciation of a name I have ever heard, but he ignored the distraction to skate very well in both his races. Canadian Ross Hanham’s newsblog has been instrumental in developing North American Masters speedskating. Both are good men I respect tremendously, and its fun to watch friends skate hard.

On the left Greg Oly shows some awesome born in the USA sprint technique, on the right he skated a huge 3k PB, and was grinning ear to ear through the lactic haze of accomplishment.

As for how I raced, I lowered my own master’s record in the 500m from a 37.47 to a 37.40, but the race itself was an awful start (10.5) & a very fast finish, maybe the best final corner I have ever skated, but it should have been much better…. I am much happier & more proud of my 5 second PB in the 3k (a 4:24), even though it was 8th place of the 17 men in my category. Overall I am in 3rd, but will probably fall a spot or two in today’s 1500m and many, many spots in the 5,000m.

This is sooo much fun…

In an earlier post, I showed the skates of Norwegian John Arthur Olafson as he was training in Salt Lake. Here is the man, at top speed. He skated PB’s in the 500m and 3k, and is solidly in the lead of the 30 competitors in the Men’s 45-59.

Brian Boudreau had some terrible luck in the 500m, he false started twice and was DQ-ed. He has trained incredibly hard for this event, and was devastated. But he is a champion in soul, and some odd mechanism of fate paired him with the best Dutch Skater, Jan Duif, for the 3k.

What resulted was one of the most incredible races I have ever personally witnessed. Both men started suicidally fast & attacked every turn all out. The lead changed hands every lap & the lap times were crazy fast; whoever was going to win this race would be the new masters record holder.

Brian is the one who told me about the “Pain Cave”, and he was incredibly deep in it today.

At the bell for the last lap, both men cracked & it was pure guts & glory all the way to the finish, Jan just had a little more than Brian in the final turn. They both skated over 9 seconds faster than the previous 3k masters world record, and for Brian, it was huge 10 second personal best, Jan went 4:03.19 and Brian 4:05.10 (!!!!!)

Incredible!!! and two men who did not know each other before today are now friends. This is Masters racing.

17 Comments »

  1. Awesome account of the racing- thanks a ton Andrew- I am at work right now and the students are doing a presentation on black history month. You make me wish I was 6 years older and racing in Calgary!!

    Comment by Peter Doucet — February 23, 2007 @ 11:48 am

  2. Peter,

    it will happen soon enough, age is inevitable, growing up is optional!

    ; )

    your buddy & Ottawa inliner Stephane Tremblay is racing masters worlds too, it was great to see him on the ice, our 3k races were pretty much identical times…

    Comment by andrew — February 23, 2007 @ 11:54 am

  3. thanks for the pics ANdrew, skated a PB during public session at CULVER ice arena last night.
    Was able to maintain speed despite ice being triple overbooked… You dont know how good you have it…

    take care
    Mark from CA

    Comment by Mark Stern — February 23, 2007 @ 11:59 am

  4. What a nice BLOG !!!!

    You are the MAN Andrew !!!

    Skating at 37,40 !!! …… and also have time
    for blogging….and taking nice pictures as well.

    GOOD LUCK WITH TODAYS 1500 METER Andrew !!

    Frode Eidsmo

    Oslo - Norway

    Comment by Frode Eidsmo - Norway — February 23, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

  5. You can call it however you want, but there’s NOT such a thing as Master World Records!
    This is only ISSSC Competition Records for age groups and BTW, indoor this time.
    Bruce Connor’s time of 39.05 is almost a second slower from 38.24 - the fastest ofiicial time for this age group. He can call himself “The World Recors Holder”, as he already did to the media last year. Some people try to satisfy their ego in a wierd way. We know that this is a BS!
    Congratulations to all the skaters with PB’s!
    Have fun there!

    Comment by Boris — February 23, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

  6. Boris why didn’t you skate at the Master Worlds?

    Comment by Mark — February 23, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  7. Congrats to all the Americans!!
    It’s killing us not being there with you guys. Congrats to the new 500M World Record holder Bruce Connor and to Greg Oly who got a PB in the 3000M at age 51! He said he’s retiring from long track after this year?…No way! Greg, we’ll see ya in Erfurt next year.

    Comment by Chuck and Suzy Osum — February 23, 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  8. Just fantastic coverage.Glad to hear that Ken is there. Chuck and steve are good.Boris,just relax. They are excited and having fun like you should.GO U.S.A.

    Comment by mike — February 23, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

  9. WOW, you make me so sad not be there covering this event. It’s too bad it doesn’t get as much coverage as the World Cups, as little as they get in the US.

    Funny that Mark asks Boris that question, because all I could think of was how great it would be to see how Boris would do out there with all of those guys. I, personally, think it’s time to come back to show them all how it’s done… again. :)

    Comment by Steph — February 23, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

  10. Its great to see so many people competing so nobly. The pure spirit of the competition and comradery is the impressive thing, I think.

    Skating fast & living well is always world class. No sanctioning body required.

    Comment by Ted — February 23, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  11. I wish I could be there, but I had to take some time off. I travell too much for work this days and cannot skate. Matter of fact, I have to fly to Tampa for a week in the morning.
    Again, I admire those guys, who really skate the best ever times in their age groups and claim Unofficcial WR - my Congratulations!!! … but not those … who just …

    Comment by Boris — February 23, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

  12. Un gran shout-out a tutti miei amici Italiani li in Calgary. Ale ale ale, dai dai dai! Forza!

    Comment by Jessica — February 23, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  13. Daer Andrew,
    This is very nice! But what I need are the results (time+posession) from my friend Harrie Doesburg (class 55-60).
    Can you send me?
    I will be very gratefull,
    Regards, Taeke

    Comment by Taeke Plas — February 24, 2007 @ 2:43 am

  14. I am so proud of Brian!!!
    He left his home in Mass. almost 10 years ago in search of his speedskating dreams in Salt Lake City…..4.05 3K….OMG! Way to go Brian!!!

    Dreams DO come True :)

    Comment by Pieter Dykstra — February 24, 2007 @ 8:05 am

  15. Pieter great to hear from u. It’s been a long time. I’ve been in SLC since August 2001. Time flies. See you are still skating hope things are well.

    Boris I know u can skate a ISSSC WR but I want to see the 1500/3k and 5k. Your buddy Brian. Hope all is well and you haven’t changed. Your comments made me laugh.

    Andrew’s 3k was a good PB for him. I was giving him lap times on the ice in my sneakers. It was a highlight of the weekend. Andrew and I hung out and got to know each other. He said I was Roscoe Fenn’esc in my yelling. He could hear me on both turns and said it was instrumental in his 3k PB. Maybe I have a future in coaching.

    I was proud of the way I came back after getting DQ’d in my 500m. I was crushed. I only falsed once. The starters felt bad and my “team” felt bad. Danny Frederick gave me a hug after the non race. I’ve never falsed out of a race in 11 years of Long Track and Short Track…you live and learn. I learned in All round you can’t win it in the 500 but you can lose it. The starters were holding for 2-3 seconds. My pair was inexperienced. No seed times in this competition which is stupid.

    I was fortunate for 3k pairing. Random drawing Greg Planert told me which he thought was stupid. Starter said my pair was over the line for 1st false. I thought it was a warning then I fell forward start thinking I was ok and my meet was over. Very very disappointing…i told Pat Kelly I trained hard for 4 months for this and he said he had one focus for 4 years in 88-92 and fell in both races in 1992 Albertville.

    This sport is pure yet very humbling and cruel at times.

    Those great races like the 3k make it worth it. I was a man on a mission and pissed off. I opened not super hard (mid 19) on the inner. Talking with Jan after he thought i was trying to hurt him by taking off and we both got excited. He took off on his inner and i had to hammer 2nd lap to keep up. 31.? 1st lap then Danny Frederick flashed a 0.00 second lap. I was thinking ooooh noooo from there. got another 0.? then maybe 1.? then PAIN.

    Everyone was into it and I heard all the US guys willing me on. I was done with 1000 meters to go but I hung on the best I could. The 4 lap counters had all kinds of wrong info with quads. I made a great outside pass just after the apex on the inner and and went in the outer coming out of one of the turns. Don’t know if Jan lapped anyone but it was fun. I thought i was on my last lap and was going to win but changing to inner realized I started on inner and had to finish on outer so one more lap….oooh noo…. Jan and I were even with one to go but I was so shot I couldn’t get by him on the crossover coming out of the inner. That was pathetic. Someone said 35 last lap but I haven’t seen lap times. We came down the crossover even then he finally cut in and I went around to the outside. We both had the Piano on our backs look. I thought i was going to DQ ‘d again on the crossover.

    I seemed to recover quicker after the race than him but I was never really a 3k skater so this was awesome for me.

    I went out to the casino Calgary after races thursday and won $300 in 30 minutes so it was an up and down day for sure. Thanks Mark Chrysler for all the coaching on Blackjack. Missed you on the trip. Mark learned how to gamble from the master Peter Mueller. What a weekend!

    Comment by Brian Boudreau — February 25, 2007 @ 1:15 pm

  16. Hartelijk gefeliciteerd Jan, een wereld record op de 3000 meter bij de veteranen, geweldig. 9 sec laat dat maar iemand verbreken. Geniet ervan. Niets is beter voor een midlifecrisi dan dit. Ga zo door. Mats probeert je te volgen.

    note from andrew: the previous comment translated by http://babelfish.altavista.com/ reads like this:

    “Warmly congratulated Jan, a world record on the 3000 meters at the veterans, terrible. 9 sec leave that but someone to break. Enjoys of it. Nothing is better for midlifecrisi then this. Continue this way. Frosted you try follow”

    Comment by bianca — February 26, 2007 @ 3:57 am

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