Reports by Wolverine Speed Team Coach Jay Ingram from the 2006 World Speed Skating Championships in Anyang, S. Korea.
9/7/06-Anyang, S. Korea – 500 Meters Heats
This morning brings at these championships the 500 meter heats. Usually when you are up and about in the morning you can hear birds singing as they gather their morning food. I have yet to hear a bird tweet and have seen only two since I have been here. A few Australians said that it is because of the smog of the city. I say look at L.A. and or New York City, there are birds in those cities. Another reporter from Holland says he has not seen any cats or dogs. I have seen a few cats and have heard a few dogs barking and yelping, we have said jokingly that someone is preparing dinner. Though, joke or not, dog is another form of food here as are many other things that we from the west may think twice about trying. Can anyone say Fear Factor? Back to the track and away from the lack of nature we head to the road where Heather Richardson and Alex Harris are as the American ladies get ready to participate in the road portion of the Jr. Ladies 500 meter event. Alex would skate first for team USA in heat number 5 against Italy, Russia and Switzerland. Alex gave it all she had and raced these young ladies through this winding road course to finish 3rd, just an eye blink out of second. Only First and Second get to move onto the next round, that would be the Italian and the young girl from Switzerland. Alex will have to wait for a future World Championship to try it again. I am sure she will have many more years of that ahead of her. Heather followed in the next heat with young ladies from Iran, Netherlands, and Australia. Heather faired a bit better winning her start, controlling the front and taking it home to the finish for the win. She was followed by BIANCA ANGELA DENISE ROOSENBOOM in second from the Netherlands. Chad Horn and Kevin Quandt were the young men skating the 500 meter heats for the USA and they would have to be awake this morning to make it to the quarter-final round. Usually the guys are a bit more wild than the girls........ Right now Joey Mantia is getting his award for the points race that he won last night, I can hear the American National Anthem. I am correcting a draft of this morning races so time is a bit confusing right now. 10:57pm here making it 9:57 am Eastern time as I edit stories I produced earlier this morning. Anyway, Chad had no real big issues making it to the Quarter-finals. He used his start, speed and wit to easily make it to the next round. Out of the 10 heats Chad's time was the fastest, if he kept up that speed he should have no problem making it to the final. Kevin actually skated first and had a pretty stacked heat with skaters from Hong Kong, Argentina, Italy and France. He started out well with them and it looked like he would use his long power strides to ease on by these men but he took the inside lane on the backside to make his move and was blocked and had no where to take his speed to get by anyone. When all was said and done he would skate to the line stuck in 3rd place behind Italy and France. Kevin was clearly just as fast as these boys, he just had no place to go. Brittany Bowe and Sara Sayasan were the Sr. Ladies to represent team USA this morning and Bowe would skate in heat number seven with two skates from Iran and China Taipei. It was an easy out for her, a nice warm up to a nice warm morning. Sara was in heat nine and basically duplicated what Bowe did two heats before winning by almost the same way. The Sr. Men for team USA would be Joey Mantia and Chris Creveling. Both started hard and strong in their respective heats from the front to make sure they made it out fair and square to the next round. This was not a problem for either so they will be skating the Quarter-finals. This Course is fast and there would be some fast skating tonight when the finals come. Hopefully all those who made it so far will make it the rest of the way and to the podium tonight.
9/7/06-Anyang, S. Korea – Eimination Race Road
The Jr. Ladies 20,000 meter elimination race was a tough one for all involved. In the beginning the front changed leaders about 5 times a lap, though a lap would equal about 4 if you were skating indoors on a 100 meter track. Emily Scott and Heather Richardson would be the skaters to skate this event on this semi cool evening. Some of us wondered how Heather would fair having to skate this and turn around a few hours later to skate the 500 meter final. As I have stated here before time tells all. As to be expected the pace started out semi fast and controlled for those towards the front but would be chaotic and crazy for those towards and in the back. The American pair chose to stay up towards the front for most of the race. Scott and Richardson looked good and seemed very, very confident, often they would be seen towards the front controlling the pace. With about 15 or so girls to go Heather began to falter, she pushed passed her comfort level several laps before to stay in and help out her teammate but she had no more left in the tank. Emily would have to go the rest of this event alone and Scott did a great job in doing just that. With two laps to go there would be one more elimination with a sprint for the finish to find out who would be the victor. Emily did her best and was placed up in the front for this lap but she could not hold it and she was the last person out then the sprint for the finish started with one lap to go. USA would end up 6th with Chili's CATHERINE ELIZABETH PENANPAILLACAR and VALERIA ISABEL RIFFO BUSTAMANTE in first and third, CAROLINA UPEGUI QUEVEDO from Colombia in second, (SE-YOUNG JUNG) from Korea in Fourth and ANTONELLA RITA PRESTI in 5th from Italy. Jr. Men elim was going to be much the same. It was fast, hard, lots of cheating for the officials cannot see all that is going on when you have over 40 athletes on the track skating. Team USA should be proud of their efforts for this was a hard event. Chad Horn and Hank Galbraith were the men who raced hard in this event, they had commanded the front often in the beginning as one unit, one leading as the other shadowed. Chad skated far in this event and would be out a bit passed mid way, he looked as if he had skated several laps past his comfort point to stay in longer than expected. Hank was up in the front looking like he was having a lot of fun there. He had a warning for the guys who still had teammates who were trying to bully him and he gave it right back. Both Hank and Chad would gain much experience to use for future World Championships, for Hank had commanded the front several times, the lone country man against teams of two. With heart and driven effort Hank ended up being out of the mix with about five to six more eliminations to go. He had finished well in a field of strong young competitors.
Sr. Ladies for team USA would have Brittany Bowe and Jessica Smith skating this event. They both looked nervous during the warm-up and were told to relax and have fun with this. Yes they were nervous, (Jessica biting her nails, Brittany just had that look) they were told to get that nervousness out so they would not be dealing with it on the track but dealing with their competitors as it should be. Most importantly have fun, why do any of this if you were not having fun, you would just be going through the motions then. Throughout the beginning of the race they did just that, Bowe and Smith skated as if they were one. At times they would be split apart but they would find each other later to do what was needed to stay safe. Often on laps where other countries were going crazy trying to get to the front these two knew that they were safe and saved energy for real challenges, many teams would be way off the back making it unnecessary to skate hard so as to not be last. Bowe ended up skating to a 22nd placement in this event out of 40 athletes a little past mid point in this race. Jessica would be alone and was told to stick on the Colombians for they had been the dominating team in this division and many others. Smith did just that, she stuck to them like glue even when other skaters tried to get in her spot. She was not going to have any of it and either stopped their attempts or came back around placing herself back with them. She looked confident, at ease and was finally racing like the former World Champion she was. Would that produce another one for her here? She has won this event several times in the past, could she do it alone against two ladies from Colombia, Argentina, Italy and Korea just to name a few? Again time tells all, she would just have to stay safe, (there were several falls so far and there would probably be a few more) and keep herself in the race for that final sprint to the end. With about three laps to go Smith looked like she could take on the World. No pun intended I guess she was. She receive a warning a few laps before this and had gained another here stopping attempts from other countries to break her oneness with the Colombians. In all actuality this made it safe and an advantage for her as well. It was the same however for the Colombians as she looked like their 3rd skater, they had even placed Jessica in second place when it was two to go. That ploy was done to keep the Colombian who was to win this event safe. They were keying on Jessica, they were using her just as she was using them. With one lap to go it would be two Colombians ALEXANDRA VIVAS and LIANA MERCEDES HOLGUIN CEDENO, MELISA BONNET from Argentina, Jessica Smith from the United States and YI CHIN PAN from China Taipei. The two Italian skaters, Nicole Begg from New Zealand, SILVINA POSADA from Argentina and (HYE-MI KIM) from Korea had been eliminated one at a time the five laps before. To make it this far was a feat in itself.
Smith battled with Bonnet several times to keep her position behind the Colombians but had faltered to 4th place through the final turn, she would have to take the longer line out of the turn to get them. Did she have the legs to get all three girls let alone to just get one? She found her speed carrying her behind and closing the gap on VIVAS but there was really no where to go, she had to squeeze between BONNET from Argentina and Vivas from Colombia and figure out how to hawk at the same time for this was the only way to produce a win place or show. She did just that but clipped Vivas foot and tumbled at least three time pass the line. She picked herself up and skated off a bit dazed but unhurt.
Smith ended up with third place but to the American supporters here it was as if she had won for that finish is still being talked about. The pictures are being circulated based on who got the best shot of such a dynamic finish.
Joey Mantia and Dane Lewis could not be anything else but pumped to skate their race after this finish by their team mate and the excellent performances of all the American skaters who had just raced before. There would be over 55 men racing to not get last with 50 laps to do it in. There were skaters everywhere when they finally got the race underway after two false starts. The pace was so fast that we all knew that it would be a World record breaking event. Dane and Joe often found themselves up in the front in the beginning of this event which was probably the safest place to be, but they also found themselves placed in the middle or the back in just a straight away or turn due to a second line of athletes trying to do the same thing as them, keep themselves out of trouble.
As to be expected there were a few falls, produced either by skates hitting each other or by a forceful shove from another athlete. Often you would see a trio plus contingency of feet trying to get out of the grass due to not paying attention of where the pack was skating or due to being placed/forced there by competitors. Towards the middle of the race Dane began to falter, he looked a bit spent and did all he could to stay in the hunt. Joey had faded back a few times taking Dane back up with him but the speed of the pack must have been too much for him. It looked as if he had taken the Keith Turner School of elimination racing and managed to stay in time, after time, after time from the back. Each time we thought he would be eliminated he would power through the turn and to the finish to not be last. The 35th lap to be skated proved to be too much for Dane. With about 15 to go he was eliminated giving him a placement in this World Championship event of 14th. Joey would have to go it alone. There were still plenty of teams left with two men on the track, Colombia NELSON GARZON and JORGE BOTERO, Italy PIER DVIDE ROMANI and FRANCESCO ZANGARINI, and Frances BAPTISTE GRANDGIRARD and YANN GUYADER. Mantia did not look tired. I have seen him skate since he was 10 or so and know when he is in trouble. The only trouble he would have here would be that of team work against him. Team, after team, after team, country after country would be eliminated out of this race. Netherlands, Taipei, Italy, Belgium, and France. When it came down to the final lap it was Garzon and Botero from Colombia whom had placed themselves up in the front, LERGA GARIKOITZ from Spain with PIER DAVIDE ROMANI from Italy fighting with Joey for position already at high speeds all ready to make a break. Joey was not waiting anymore. He took the sprint to these men before they wanted it and made moves that were unstoppable down the back stretch. He entered the last turn with a slight gap and took off like he had after burners connected to his skates, it was incredible to see him pull so quickly from the whole pack. He cruised out of the turn and backed it down starting his celebration about 50 or so meters to the finish. He looked back and saw that some how GARZON had gained some incredible speed and would get him if he did not get back to skating fast himself. He did just that, real fast with a hawk for a fantastic exciting win. People were saying that Garzon got a relay tag, we all could not see it due to the equipment truck in that area of the track. As I finish this story people still are making that comment but as a question, it just seemed too impossible that he would, was going that fast without any help. It would not surprise me if the later did happen, Garzon and Botero had done what they had to at all cost before to produce a win, why not here? It did not matter though, Mantia was the man of this hour. To this coach, supporters, reporters, and friends he is most likely the man of these championships. Every time he gets ready to race the T.V. cameras are cued on his dad "Big Joe", as if to show a little bit of intimidation if anyone should mess with his son. "Little Joey" just proved again, he can take care of himself.