Of Reno/Tahoe Winter Olympic bids, ice skating and Squaw Valley

December 10, 2012

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Well, a 2022 Winter Olympics in the U.S. has been put on the no go list by the USOC. It appears that the USOC and IOC have worked out their differences on the revenue front, it’s the time line that is the snag now. Since the USOC would have to seal its partnerships, sponsors and raise beaucoup dinero by the fall of 2013 to be considered, they decided it was just not enough time to do all the groundwork necessary to do the process justice. (30 million! Just to bid!!! Is it just me…or does this seem like an exorbitant extortion fee by the IOC?) The earliest bid the U.S. could possibly muster would be for 2024 or 2026. The Winter Olympics is the more hopeful option as the competition to host a Winter Olympics isn’t as intense as for a Summer Olympics.

The Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition is of course, disappointed. They haven’t written off the longer timeline, but their post as of July 2012 on the website indicates they need to have some discussions before they make any decisions on going forward. We’ll have to keep checking in to see what they ultimately decide. With areas like Denver, Salt Lake City and Montana also throwing their hat in the ring, we would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit that Reno/Tahoe is an underdog in this fight, or that we’d have some obstacles to overcome. The area has other very attractive traits to recommend it that far outweigh them, but we also have several government agencies and red tape to contend with that can fairly foul up the works. But that’s a post for another day.

http://www.renotahoewintergames.org/archives/1513

This all ties into some issues made in Eva Rodansky’s book ‘Winter of Discontent’. She touched on a lot of points about the legacy of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games that got me thinking about the legacy of the Olympics here at the Reno-Tahoe area.

What it was as the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley.

What it could be as the site of a Winter Olympics in the future.

What it is and could be as an Olympic training center – now, and for years to come.

We’ve always been a Winter Sports area. (Summer Sports too, but it isn’t the sort that draws Olympian’s…at least not until they have hiking and water-skiing as gold medal worthy Olympic Sports…) We have the highest concentration of ski areas in the nation, all situated around the 2nd largest alpine lake in the country. As scenic Olympic sites go, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Winter at Lake Tahoe (Photo by M. Portesi)

Winter at Lake Tahoe (Photo by M. Portesi)

Eva’s book also touched on some other areas that I could relate to. Underutilized venues and wasted opportunities. Her issues were with the Utah Olympic Oval. Mine are with the rink at Squaw Valley USA.

I hear Squaw has new owners. Sadly, they have opted to close the only Olympic sized ice rink for several hundred miles in every direction. I understand why they chose to do so. I’ll be blunt here. Whoever designed it had their head planted fairly deep and firmly up their hind quarters. They obviously knew absolutely nothing about ice rinks, or more importantly, how to design them to be financially viable. Obviously a venue whose sole purpose was for tourists to slide around on their ankles wasn’t it. I’ll confess though, while it lasted, I personally loved it. Where else could I have an entire Olympic sized ice rink practically to myself? On a glorious summer night, nowhere but Squaw. It’s no surprise they closed it. Given its myriad of problems, it must have been nothing short of a financial black hole.

All selfishness aside, it was unfortunately designed to fail.
It is however, a gorgeous location. At 8200 feet, it sports a spectacular view. That also means it requires taking a spectacularly expensive tram ride to get to it. That’s before you rent skates, ice time or lessons. Ice sports are already very expensive. Do you suppose the designers of the facility were thinking “Hey, why don’t we ratchet the costs up a few more notches by requiring a really big fee just to access it”? Clearly they weren’t thinking at all. The local recreational skaters couldn’t afford it, training programs can’t function with a rink open to the elements and tourists aren’t that interested. They come to Squaw Valley to ski.

Taking the tram to Squaw Valley's High Camp. (Photo by M. Portesi)

Taking the tram to Squaw Valley’s High Camp. (Photo by M. Portesi)

In the winter it was a completely outdoor rink, no walls, no roof. On a sunny winter day, it was really quite exquisite. I would imagine on a snowy winter day however, it was a five star bitch to deal with. It’s not uncommon to get 4 feet of snow at a go at that elevation. The Zamboni and its driver must have been groaning in agony. No doubt some poor soul had to shovel a good deal of it off first just to get it clear enough for the Zamboni to drive out and make a dent. Maybe they had a snow-blower, or a baby snowplow. At any rate, while scenic, it wasn’t very practical.

Winter ice skating at the top of Squaw Valley. Photo by M. Portesi

Winter ice skating at the top of Squaw Valley. Photo by M. Portesi

During the summer, the rink had a temporary roof on it, but the rink itself was still open to the elements. The wind can really rip up there, and it wasn’t uncommon to have your strokes slow to a snails crawl fighting the wind at one end – only to turn the corner and be hurled down the rink by it at the other. It certainly made for some interesting jumps and spins. The roof only shielded the ice from some of the summer suns intense rays, so it was also fairly common for the ice to have slush puddles clear down to the under layment.

But I digress. My point is it could have been soooo much more. In fact, it could have been amazing.

For a rink to be profitable, it isn’t the public skates sessions that keep them alive. It’s the hockey leagues, the figure skating lessons, the short track speed skating clubs, the curling enthusiasts, the competitions and events that bring in the revenues. All of these endeavors require some control of the rinks environment, which is impossible to do with an outdoor rink. The wind not only made control of movement difficult, it also left a fair amount of crud on the ice. And if the wind didn’t deposit it, the Zamboni’s wheels imbedded it in the ice while traveling over its open to the elements driveway. (We won’t get into the refusal to drop the blade on the Zamboni when resurfacing, which merely resulted in shiny ruts as opposed to shiny, smooth, clean ice.) An elite short track speed skater can get up to speeds in the 30’s and even 40’s. Hitting a chunk of sand at that speed would surely strip a blade and send the skater flying. Broken blades and bodies to follow soon thereafter.

And for the love of God, why weren’t there any plans for bleachers? You know, seats. A place where you could take a load off when you weren’t skating. A place where onlookers could take a load off while watching others skating. And God forbid, a place where A LOT of onlookers could take a load off and watch – for a fee – a competition of other people skating. The planners were clearly missing the boat here.

Just for grins and giggles, I’m going to go a little further into my arguments from fantasy. This is what I propose. The first thing the ice facility building needs is… well, a building. Something enclosed where the snow, wind, ice to crud level and temperature can be controlled. Now I’ll agree, most ice rinks are metal, zero ambiance tin cans. Certainly we wouldn’t want that spectacular view to go to waste, nor take away from the feeling of skating outdoors, which was the one shining element of Squaw Valley’s rink. So first, the building would need to be incorporated into the existing structure, be enlarged enough to get some bleachers into it, and have a steeply pitched roof to dump the snow wherever the groomers for the ski area could actually use it. Oh yeah, and some nice big windows to show off the view. Now we’ve got something to work with here. A facility that would be of greater use to a wider audience.

The existing outdoor rink. A building to house the ice rink would need to tie into the existing structure. (photo by M. Portesi)

The existing outdoor rink. A building to house the ice rink would need to tie into the existing structure. (photo by M. Portesi)

Squaw Valley is – and has been the home and training grounds to many an Olympic skier. With a rink situated at 8200 feet, that whole athlete ‘train high, live higher’ benefit would make it an excellent training facility for elite skaters as well. Imagine the competition and event possibilities. Imagine the Olympic training programs that would love to be at a facility like this. I know skaters are always complaining that they can’t find enough available ice time. Imagine the additional winter sports programs that could be made available to the local community. And as for competitions and events, wouldn’t you, as a fan, rather go to a venue located in an area like this than your average corrugated metal warehouse located in a sketchy part of town in suburbia that are the location of most rinks? I know I would.

Reno conducted a pole not too long ago that stated that #2 on the list of events Reno residents would like to see in the area was short track speedskating. Many of our current Olympic short track skaters who train in Salt Lake City are completely unhappy with their NGB, U.S. Speedskating. We as fans think the organization is completely broken, needs to be disbanded, and a new National Governing Body started that serves the skaters instead of the other way around. Such an entity would also be eligible for funding from the USOC to run the program.
See where I’m heading with this?…*hint*hint*

Hey, just sayin’…

So here is your chance Squaw Valley to show the USOC and IOC that you’re serious about bringing the games back to the Reno Tahoe area. We already have the ski areas. You have an empty rink. The Reno/Tahoe area has the capacity to be a winter sports training and recreational Mecca. All in an area that according to USA Today was voted the #1 Lake in the country. We’ve got it all!…and wouldn’t it be an enormous boost for our economy if the rest of the world knew about it!

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Short Track Speedskating season 2012/13 is underway!

October 25, 2012

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Well, the first qualifying U.S. competition has come and gone, and the U.S. Team made a great showing at their first World Cup. On to Montreal!

Photo from US Speedskating. Anthony Barthell, Tamara Sirota Castellano, Travis Jayner, Emily Scott, Alyson Dudek, Kyle Carr, Jeff Simon, Chris Creveling, John-Henry Krueger, Nicole Detling and Jessica Smith.

The U.S. Team and brief recap:
MEN
J.R. Celski –Gold, Bronze
Chris Creveling
Kyle Carr
Jeff Simon
Travis Jayner
John Henry Krueger- Bronze


LADIES

Jessica Smith
Sarah Chen
Lana Gehring
Emily Scott
Alyson Dudek
Tamara Fredericks

Internationally, ‘Victor’ Ahn for Team Russia is making a real comeback, Team Russia as a whole is proving themselves to be a force to be reckoned with, and Team Korea and Team Canada continue to dominate.

Congrats to J.R Celski and John Henry Krueger on their podium wins, and a special kudos to J.R. for his world record!
Welcome to Chris Creveling for making his first World Cup Team.

For the full story on ISU’s website:
http://www2.isu.org/vsite/vnavsite/page/directory/0,10853,4844-205151-222374-nav-list,00.html?id=1159

For full results:
http://shorttrack.sportresult.com/Results.aspx?evt=11212100000011

J.R. Celski wins gold, and shatters a world record time in the process – skating a sub 40 time at 39.937.


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When it comes to the skaters, competitions and results, Lori usually has all this information covered on the Boots and Blades Forum.

http://therockerforum.proboards.com/index.cgi

As a result, reposting it here on the blog turned into little more than a time suck just to repost redundant information. So this is a good opportunity to ‘splain what the blog has become and where it stands at present in ‘The Rocker Fund Family of Products’.

Lori owns the Rocker U website and the Boots and Blades Forum. I own the Rocker Fund website and the blog. We do at times work together as a sort of loose tag team to accomplish common goals. We started with the websites, but as they are extremely time consuming to update, the move to a Forum and Blog format makes for much faster and easier postings of information and quicker dissemination throughout the web. The BB Forum is a perfect place to post a wide range of information on a variety of topics, as the format allows for a great deal of organization for posts, including individual areas for every skater, competitions, news and verbal discourse.

As a result, the blog has more or less turned into more of an editorial area. They are for the most part, my opinions, and may, or may not reflect those of Lori, fans, the skating community at large or the Boots and Blades Forum in general. Blog formats allows for more in depth musings that I may not want to take up space on the BB Forum just for my random brain firings, or I’m about to sharpen my poison pen for some real snark, or I have something to say on a subject that would be a bit more controversial for BB. (BB’s ‘mission statement’ if you will, was first and foremost, to support the skaters, ALL of the skaters. Lori works very hard to keep the voice of the site neutral, as it should be). As this site is more for editorial purposes, I feel the need for no such restraint here, and therefor, I’m willing to go out on a limb from time to time. As I’ve said before, my blog, my rules. I’ve at times gotten notes from those who disagree with my posts. Fair enough. There is a comments section, feel free to rebut it. Come armed with some FACTS. You won’t get far in changing my mind (and therefor editing the blog) if all you’ve got is ‘I don’t agree and I don’t like your post’. Past that, my point is, I do want to make it clear, that a post here does not necessarily mean that Lori or the whole of ‘The Rocker Fund Family of Products’ should be blamed.

And with that…stay tuned for some coming ‘snark’…


Meet APTE: Athletes for a Positive Training Environment

September 18, 2012

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The skaters have been hinting that they had something in the works so that fans could show their support. Well, here it is. APTE: Athletes for a Positive Training Environment.

https://www.facebook.com/4APTE

I haven’t had a chance to look through the entire site yet, but you can leave comments, encouragement AND – this is a biggiethere is information on how you can make donations directly to the skaters!

The Speedskating Program has always been severely underfunded. Even more distressing is that the majority of the money you send to most non profit entities rarely trickles down to the people you thought you were trying to help in the first place. Administrative costs more often than not eat up the bulk of donations. Now you can cut out the middleman entirely and know for certain that your donation to APTE will be going directly to the skaters.
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Lack of funding and funding misrepresentation are issues that are part of the skaters complaints against USS. If you haven’t read the list of the skaters grievances, you can go here:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/acrobat/2012-09/133629640-14134437.pdf

On page 10 is one of the allegations that relates to this issue.
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To be honest, when I read the following blog post on USS’s site, I thought it was infinitely worse, to the point that I almost whipped off a blog post of my own under the category of ‘How could you!!! Have you no shame?!!!’.
http://skateleft.com/2012/07/

It was by far and away one of the most flagrant and egregious misrepresentations to pander for donations I have ever seen. The insinuation that your donation would somehow be helping the skaters with some of these basic expenses would be laughable if it wasn’t so criminal. How many times have skaters been told they had to pay their own way to an international competition after being selected for a World Cup team? That, next to coaching, is the one thing USS should be paying for above all else. If they can’t even manage that, then it’s rather obvious that they won’t be helping the skaters with much of anything else on the aforementioned laundry list of expenses.

Tugging on heart strings, appealing to your sense of patriotism and your sincere desire to help, that’s how non profits operate. If you still want to make donations to them, so be it.
But before you do, first make a donation directly to a skater you truly want and intend to help in the first place.

http://gofundme.com/4APTE


American Cup 1 2011. The results are in…

October 3, 2011

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The first competition of the season for the U.S. Skaters is in the books, and the U.S. Team for the upcoming World Cups has been chosen.

For full results and points, you can go to Tony Chung’s spreadsheet:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkKaRsNHioRqdEFfUGZtZDhpb2l1aEdvYnRrTF9RTWc&hl=en_US#gid=25

The following results are from US Speedskatings site. The top 4 skaters were automatic team members, with two additional discretionary picks by the coaches. Here’s how it shakes out:

World Cup #1 – Salt Lake City, USA (October 21-23)

Ladies:

Lana Gehring (Glenview, IL)

Alyson Dudek (Hales Corners, WI)

Katherine Reutter (Champaign, IL)

Jessica Smith (Melvindale, MI)

Emily Scott (Springfield, MO)

Sarah Chen (San Marino, CA)

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Men:

J.R. Celski (Federal Way, WA)

Kyle Carr (Peachtree City, GA)

Jordan Malone (Denton, TX)

Jonathan Garcia (Houston, TX)

John-Henry Krueger (Pittsburgh, PA)

Kyle Uyehara (Lakewood, CA)

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World Cup #3 – Nagoya, JPN, (December 2-4)

World Cup #4 Shanghai, CHN, (December 9-11)

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Ladies:

Lana Gehring (Glenview, IL)

Alyson Dudek (Hales Corners, WI)

Katherine Reutter (Champaign, IL)

Jessica Smith (Melvindale, MI)

Emily Scott (Springfield, MO)

Tamara Fredericks (Park Ridge, IL)

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Men:

J.R. Celski (Federal Way, WA)

Kyle Carr (Peachtree City, GA)

Jordan Malone (Denton, TX)

Jonathan Garcia (Houston, TX)

Simon Cho (Laurel, MD)

Travis Jayner (Midland, MI)

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* Team USA will not be competing in World Cup #2 (October 28-30) in Saguenay, CAN
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It’s wonderful to see Travis Jayner is on the second leg of the World Cups. He had to scratch today due to a fall that was accompanied by a concussion. We love Tony’s live feeds, but we HATE seeing the skaters injured. We’re so glad you’re OK Travis!

Congratulations to all the skaters!

And Thank You Tony Chung for the live feed. We’d be lost without you. To donate to Tony for bringing us all ACTUAL MOVING PICTURES, go to the following link:
http://www.shorttrackhd.com/Donation.html
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On a side note: This season started out with quite a few skaters greatly missed. Jeff Simon, Simon Cho, Morgan Izykowski, and Anthony Lobello. Simon Cho has been on the mend and the coaches must think enough of him to give him a spot on the World Cup 3 and 4 Team despite not being able to compete. Anthony is finishing his school obligations. Good for you Anthony. Get the parchment and then concentrate on getting some GOLD.

I’m a bit sad Kimberly Derrick didn’t make the team, but it does give some other gals some experience. As a fan, we have a warm spot in our hearts for certain skaters and Kimberly is one of them. We’re heartbroken for them when they don’t fare well, even though we know there are only so many spots, and everyone can’t make a team. Kimberly’s concentrating on school too the last I heard and I’m sure a lot of her energy is going into that. Hang in there Berly.

Fellow Olympic Team Member Allison Baver was also MIA. She announced on her FB page that she’s decided to train for another Olympics, but seeing as she wasn’t at this competition, perhaps she has decided to continue giving long track a go.

The best of luck to all of you.
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To check out the rest of the news, see the links to the right for US Speedskating, the Boots and Blades Forum, Bella Faccie photography and Tony Chung- Short Track HD.


Congrats to Simon Cho!

April 2, 2011

I apologize to Simon, this is WAY overdue! (my internet access has been pretty spotty for the last several months)

Simon has some wonderful photos on his facebook page of his GOLD MEDAL win in the 500m at the 2011 World Short Track Speedskating Championships in March. Congratulations to you Simon!

Simon Cho of the USA celebrates after taking the gold medal in the final of the Mens 500m at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, northern England, on March 12, 2011. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

You can follow Simon on his facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=162386637149400#!/photo.php?fbid=10150139621256612&set=a.10150139621046612.282376.181314096611

and you can follow him on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/TheRealSimonCho


USA off to a GREAT start during World Short Track Speedskating Championships

March 13, 2011

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I know this site has been MIA most of the season due to marginal internet service along with personal issues, but I do need to get some congrats in:

Katherine Reutter takes the GOLD in the 1500m!

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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Jeff Simon takes the BRONZE!


Alex Livesey/Getty Images

To see more photos from Getty today, go here:
http://www.gettyimages.com/Search/Search.aspx?EventId=109102304&EditorialProduct=Sport
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Results from Day 1:

Ladies 1500m

1 REUTTER Katherine USA 34
2 PARK Seung-Hi KOR 21
3 CHO Ha-Ri KOR 13
4 FONTANA Arianna ITA 8
5 LI Jianrou CHN 5
6 YANG Shin-Young KOR

Men 1500m

1 NOH Jinkyu KOR 34
2 HAMELIN Charles CAN 21
3 SIMON Jeff USA 13
4 SONG Weilong CHN 8
5 CHO Simon USA 5
6 UM Cheon-Ho KOR 3
7 LEE Ho-Suk KOR 2

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The Ladies didn’t make it out of their race to move on in the Relay. The Men skate tomorrow for their chance to move on towards their spot on the podium.

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You can follow along at the BB forum:
http://therockerforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=trips&action=display&thread=566&page=12

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Here are a few links to try courtesy of Dose on the BB forum:

http://www.tv007.com/tv/4.html

http://bugu.cntv.cn/live_cctv5/index.shtml


http://www.dj533.cn/tv-dianshi-cctv5/

http://www.tiyuba.net/tv/sbs_pplive.html

You can try this one in the UK
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/amateur/story/2010/10/24/sp-speedskating-cbc-schedule.html
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I haven’t had any luck with any of them myself…so if you’re like me, you’ll just be watching the ‘blinking numbers’ here:

http://www.sportresult.com/federations/ISU/ShortTrack/?evt=11210300000009
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Racing starts at 2pm in Sheffield, England
9am Eastern
6am Pacific

…and don’t forget to set those clocks back! (Ahrrrg!)


Crash propels Jeff Simon to short track victory

December 30, 2010

By Amy Donaldson, Deseret News
Published: Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010 11:45 p.m. MST

To see more photos and articles, go here:
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700093309/Crash-propels-Jeff-Simon-to-short-track-victory.html?pg=1

Jeff Simon skates past Simon Cho from the outside in the Men’s 1000 meter event for the 2010 U.S. Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Sunday. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

KEARNS — Simon Cho was 70 points ahead going into the final race of the U.S. Championships Sunday afternoon.

And then, as it often does in short track speed skating, a mistake by one athlete cost him the race. Ryan Bedford, who was disqualified after the race, caused a collision between himself and two other competitors. Jeff Simon narrowly avoided the crash that sent two skaters into the pads, but Cho fell because of it.
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After pulling away from the pack, Katherine Reutter skates alone in the women’s 3000 meter event at the 2010 U.S. Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns on Sunday.
Mike Terry, Deseret News

“It happens in short track,” Cho said with a shrug. “The real battle was between me and Jeff.”

So Cho’s plan was to watch Simon and plan his strategy around Simon’s moves. And then the collision happened right in front of him, causing him to wreck as well.

“There was a split second where I thought I had cleared it,” said Cho, who made the World Cup team and finished second behind Simon in the standings. “But unfortunately, three guys fall in front of you, there is not much room to maneuver.”

For Simon his first National Championship was sweeter after a disappointing — and painful — year. He narrowly missed making the 2010 Olympic Team and then he broke his back when another skater pushed him and he crashed into the wall surrounding the ice.

“I honestly just wanted to get those points,” he said of the final race in which Cho crashed, the 3,000-meter race. Simon finished fourth, while Cho was seventh. He felt for Cho getting tangled in the crash, but knew all he had to do was stay on his feet to earn the U.S. title.

“I just had to finish,” he said. “Now I just want to continue this momentum. I’m very pleased, very happy.”

To be the national champion after 11 weeks in a back brace and missing out on three months of training is just the kind of vindication Simon was hoping for this weekend.

“I’m exhausted from racing,” he said, “from pushing my body to its limit. I had to dig pretty deep.”

Simon and Cho are friends off the ice and said they enjoyed battling it out physically and intellectually.

“You only get smart by playing smarter,” said Simon. Cho was happy to see Simon win the title after a tough year, and took the fall in stride.

“I felt like I was at the top of my game,” he said. “It all came down to that last race. Falls like that happen all the time in short track. Every athlete just has to take it in stride.”

On the women’s side, Katherine Reutter continued her dominance with a win in both the 1,000-meter race and 3,000-meter contest. She put on a show in the 3,000-meter race when she took off nine laps into the race and eventually lapped the pack. She hung near the back of the group for the remainder of the race, finishing a full lap ahead of second place.


Jonathan Garcia skates to a first place finish in the men’s 3000 meter event in the 2010 U.S. Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearnon Sunday. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

Watch the Men’s 3000m wild ride here on Tony Chung’s shorttrackhd: (and don’t forget to donate!)
http://www.shorttrackhd.com/USChamps3kA.html

Read the rest of this entry »


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