Zen and the Art of Speedskating

February 25, 2007

Day 3, Masters Worlds

Filed under: RACE DAY, on the road — andrew @ 1:06 am

A conversation between Norwegian Sprinter Ivar Njos and myself, before today’s 5k.

Andrew: So Ivar, when was the last 5k you skated?
Ivar: Oh, about 4 years ago. It was very cold, slow outdoor ice. –23 Celsius, I skated an 8:45. How about you?
Andrew: Hmmm, 4 years ago as well, in Lake Placid, during a screaming blizzard, I did a 9:05.
Ivar: Well, at least we both will set PB’s today!

Sprinters can have a complicated relationship with distance races. The feeling falls somewhere between fear, respect, proving your man/womanhood, and the fact that we need to do them every once in a while to improve our 1000m finish and to keep allarounders from calling us wimps.

Oddly enough, my 5k went VERY well, I skated flat 37’s almost the whole way, felt in control, skated a 7:41 and was quite pleased I did not puke up the 20oz coffee I had before the start, (more from pre-race nerves than anything else). I only lost 2 places in the overall samalong, and ended up 5th.

Ivar was a bit faster in the beginning & slower at the end for his 5k, and he did a 7:43! They really made the ice cold & fast in Calgary for these races, just outstanding.

Here is Ivar, skating and finishing his 5k today.

Connecticut-based Vinnie Gagliano decided to be Italian for this competition, and since he actually speaks the language, that is ok with me. Besides, the Italian team has skinsuits, warm-ups, jackets, and knows how to party.

However he needed to use some particularly American skills in his 3k today. Near the finish, he was supposed to cross over from the inner to the outer lane, and forgot until the last possible second.

He took a big sideways step, and did a crazy short track pivot around the cone and into the outer lane. All the European coaches & the Calgary judges thought it was a marvelous bit of skating.

Stephen Gunther is one very smart fellow, after watching a Norwegian in one of the upper age groups skate a freaky fast 3k, he copied the smoothness & extension for his own race. Stephen is another example of how one can mainly train short track, and still skate well on the long track!

A Norwegian lady and a 1500m race, here is some serious focus.

The German fans were out in force, they were doing the wave every time a favorite skater wizzed by. I love the hats and the German flag colored ‘leis.

GO UKRAINE!! I tried to come up with a good metaphor to describe the color combinations & patterns of this skinsuit, the best I could do was the Ocean meets the Volcano scene from Disney’s Fantasia

Ready! Set! Go!! Kaari Cox and a very fast Dutch skater start a 1500. She effectively applied the “Skate-to-die” approach to the 1500, skate freaky fast for 700m, and then just suffer to the finish.

Steve Desotell had a wild see-saw battle with a Dutch skater in his 5k. It came down to a shoulder-to-shoulder struggle over the last 100m.

If you have ever watched Steve race packstyle, he always seems to find a crafty way to win if he makes it to the final 100m near the front. However this win was just pure willpower & a lifetime of laps in the legs.

Here he is racing, and then giving his daughter/laptime provider a smooch afterwards as his friends applaud from the stands.

Speedskating is truly one of he best examples of a multi-generational sport I can think of!

11 Comments »

  1. Go Stevie D……Go

    Comment by Ken Huss — February 25, 2007 @ 8:12 am

  2. Thanks a million Andrew for your postings. It seems to be the only information coming out of the International Masters Championships.

    Any insight into why the results aren’t getting posted on the Calgary Oval website ?

    Comment by Ken Huss — February 25, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  3. YES, your blogging is suberb ANDREW !

    And for the results Ken : They´re beginning to show
    at the Calgary Ovals website. And also for the website to the Deutsche Eisschnellauf Gemeinschaft :

    http://www.desg.de/results.php?anzeige=event&eventID=4131

    Comment by Frode Eidsmo — February 25, 2007 @ 8:58 am

  4. Yes Andrew, I believe you are doing a fantastic job of keeping up todate with great pictures and information.Also the sportsmanship and the knowledge these great skaters have is second to none.Anytime asked Steve Desotell,Ken Huss and Olu all from the Pettit center will help you with your questions.They are just nice people.I have found that in alot of Master skaters.

    Comment by mike — February 25, 2007 @ 11:25 am

  5. Hi Andrew!
    Thank you for the information from the world masters. Yes you are doing a great job to keep your fantastic blog update.
    Congratulations to your results in the races!
    Many greetings from Germany. Frank
    PS. The German fans are skaters too - some of them i knew from ice-training in Frankfurt - what a surprise to see them your pictures :-)

    Comment by Frank — February 25, 2007 @ 12:14 pm

  6. I skated a 500m with the world cup guys after getting DQ’d on TH…. but woke up late (8:30)and got to the rink at 9am without knowing what pair i was. Par for the course for this weekend. I DQ’d, lost my skates on Thursday after my 3k, and woke up late Sat. Someone picked up my skates TH by the bikes and i got them b4 my 1500 Friday. Not a good feeling leaving the hotel without your skates.
    Luckily i was the last pair on Sat but only had 30 minutes to get ready. Not great race….starter held us forever…i should have just false started, some little Japanese girl had two steps on me off the line then I stumbled down the 100 to a 10.88 or something slow like that…had an ok lap but disappointing overall…….talked with Shani he got to the rink late too. He raced an ok 500 after a similiar quick warmup then i asked him about his 1500. He said he wanted to skate a 1:45 or better…hopefully a 43. He just looked like he was cruising for a 1:43.01…..Denny Morrison went after a 1000m with a 1:07.3 i think. Should be interesting seeing the next two weeks results.

    Comment by Brian Boudreau — February 25, 2007 @ 5:09 pm

  7. Each time I visit your blog makes me realize what a beautiful sport speedskating is, thanks Andrew, and congratulations with your results.

    Comment by Fred (from Holland) — February 25, 2007 @ 5:49 pm

  8. ANDREW your site looks great!! love the coverage of the masters events you have a real gifted eye for speedskating,a very special sport in my hart. If I had the money I would have you make a film for sundance keep up the good work. (Masters skaters you all are great skaters keep it up)
    Caleb the skier

    Comment by caleb — February 26, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  9. Hi Ken Huss. Thanks for cheering for me. I know that you were in Calgary in spirit. Next time, you and Iris should join us. It was sooooo cool!

    Comment by Steve E D — February 27, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

  10. Hi Andrew, Great coverage. Thanks Steve E D for pushing me to the fastest 5 k of my life. Steve started just after I did in my Quad and I did not want to get passed ! I skated a 7:36.91 that was 62 seconds faster than I have ever gone WOW ! for 8th in the 5K

    Comment by Greg Oly — March 2, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

  11. Hi Greg Oly,
    You are welcome for the “push” in the 5K. I’m not sure who was the “pusher” and who was the “pushee”
    Regardless…we were fortunate to have been a part of the Calgary experience. Great ice, great people and great “times”!
    PS I skated the American Cup at the Pettit this past weekend and produced my fastest Pettit times of the season. I’m now due for a rest. Recovery time is very important to me!

    Comment by Steve E D — March 6, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

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