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November 26, 2005

CBC to broadcast Bormio World Cup highlights today

CBC television is broadcasting a half hour of WC3 taped from Bormio, on Saturday Nov 26 from 4:30 to 5:00 Eastern Time. Details here

Posted by noelle at 8:15 AM | Comments (19)

November 25, 2005

ISU announces entry quotas for Torino

The ISU has published the list of official entry quotas by country for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. As expected, the USA will be able to send 10 skaters, 5 men and 5 women.

It's kind of funny that the South Korean men qualified 3 men for the 500m, of all distances. They are the only men's team to qualify the maximum number of skaters at any distance. The South Korean, Chinese and Canadian women all qualified for 3 spots at one distance each.

Individual spots for men
South Korea: 1500 - 2, 500m - 3, 1000m - 2
China: 1500 - 2, 500m - 2, 1000m - 2
Canada: 1500 - 2, 500m - 2, 1000m - 2
USA: 1500 - 2, 500m - 2, 1000m - 2

Individual spots for women
South Korea: 1500m - 3, 500m - 2, 1000m - 2
China: 1500m - 3, 500m - 2, 1000m - 2
Canada: 1500m - 2, 500m - 3, 1000m - 2
USA: 1500m - 2, 500m - 2, 1000m - 2

Countries that earned starting places for men's relay
South Korea

Countries that earned starting places for women's relay
South Korea

Full details available from the ISU here.

Posted by noelle at 12:51 PM | Comments (2)

November 23, 2005

Wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by noelle at 2:24 PM

November 22, 2005

Around the rink (tidbits from the Hague)

I always run into Australian skaters before I see anyone else at World Cups. Always. So when Corin and I arrived at the rink for practice on Thursday, the first people we laid eyes on were the Aussies, waiting for the bus back to their hotel. It's funny, but it's been this way since the very first World Cup I attended (Bormio, December 2002).

DSC_1267_200.jpg Turns out that Steven Bradbury was the team leader for Australia at the World Cups this season. I stumbled upon him in my rounds Friday morning before racing started. I got that giddy fan feeling I used to know so well! I always wanted to meet Steven and never got the chance before. He's friendly and easy to talk to like all the Aussies are, and he's looking forward to doing commentary in Torino for Australian television.

He mentioned that Dan Weinstein will be providing commentary for NBC in Torino. Pretty cool, no? Since I never got to see Dan skate, I'm looking forward to hearing his Ivy-league analyis!

Fabio Carta is sporting newly shorn locks and confirmed that the reason for his new look is that he was recently inducted into the police - I believe the city police force in his hometown of Torino. He officially starts with them next November and plans to continue competing in short track for two more seasons. His hair is really short! It looks good but he wouldn't let me take a photo...

The Korean team held their short track trials back in September. Evidently only 7 men tried out for the Olympic team. Seems odd, no? Anyway, Seung-jae Lee was one of those seven but he didn't make it. That's why we haven't seen him around this season.

Speaking of Team Korea, it was really sad to learn that our friend Kevin from last season is no longer coaching the women's team. Chalked up to politics and power struggles. (Some things are universal!)

I definitely saw a different side of Hyun-soo Ahn this World Cup. I don't know if it's 'cause he was have a lot of success (there's nothing like winning to lighten the mood!) or he's just more comfortable in his skin, but he was downright happy go lucky all weekend. It was really nice to see him smiling and visibly enjoying himself.

There was one moment that I found really touching. At the medal ceremony for the men's 500m, J.P. Kepka was called to the medal stand last, after Ahn and Jiajun Li. He shook hands with them both and they did the medal ceremony. After it was all done, and all the photos were taken, Ahn turned again to J.P. to congratulate him personally and shake his hand again. He was really happy for J.P.

Hyun-soo Ahn congratulates J.P. Kepka during the men's 500m medal ceremony


The US team had quite an entourage along with them for the World Cups this season -- including a team physician, trainer, sport psychologist and even a video specialist recording all the races. These additional staff come courtesy of the USOC investing in the team this Olympic year.

That's nothing compared to the Canadian team, though. They always have a huge support staff along with them. In The Hague it seemed that every third person had a Canadian team jacket on. Someone joked that there was one person whose sole responsibility was to make sure Canadian athletes wore the right garb on the medal stand. I think it was a joke, anyway...

So, there was a short track speed skating World Cup taking place IN the Netherlands over the weekend. But when I get back to my hotel and turn the TV on after dinner, what do I see? The long track World Cup taking place 6,000 miles away in Salt Lake City. It's amazing -- they even have 3 talking heads in a tv studio going on and on about long track between races. You should see their expressions! You'd think they were discussing the prospects for peace in the Middle East!

So - live coverage in the middle of the Dutch night of a long track World Cup in Salt Lake. Meanwhile, the short track World Cup in The Hague was carried live on tv as well - in China. It must be great to be a long track fan in Holland!

We were definitely well taken care of in the press room. I love a country where they serve wine in the press room - and 3rd graders promote Heineken!


Posted by noelle at 6:00 PM | Comments (10)

American Cup 2

The 2nd American Cup event was held this past weekend in Cleveland Heights.

For the ladies, the top 5 finishers were:
1. Carly Wilson (2175 pts) - won the 1500m
2. Kira Fling (1887) - won the 500m
3. Tina Koenig (1654) - won the 3000m
4. Cherise Wilkins (1425)
5. Brigid Farrell (1355) - won the 1000m

Bridie recently relocated to Marquette as her new training base.

Top 5 men:
1. Ryan Bedford (3200 pts) - won the 500m and 3000m
2. Mike Kooreman (2270) - won the 1500m
3. Joey Lindsey (1375)
4. Trevor Marsicano (1353) - won the 1000m
5. Levi Kirkpatrick (750)

Congratulations to all! Full results available here.

Posted by noelle at 9:34 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Apolo to appear on 'Today' Show Tuesday, Nov. 22

Thanks to sharp-eyed Theresa for spotting this tidbit:

Coming up on Today: "Olympic Fashion Show with Apollo Ono [sic] and other 2006 Winter Olympic athletes."

[update] Lots of stuff on Roots.com about their new line of clothing - the official launch was with the Today show appearance - lots of stuff on Apolo there as well, including some photos. The Torino clothing line has some nice stuff! I'm going to be tempted when I pass the Roots store in Minneapolis airport next week!

US Olympic two-time Medalist Apolo Ohno helped launch the new Roots official Team USA collection on NBC's Today Show this morning in New York.

photo via Roots.com

Posted by noelle at 6:00 PM | Comments (25)

Hague press roundup

Here's a bunch of news article links with press coverage of World Cup #4 in The Hague:

AP | Ohno places third, stays positive (this is the fullest version of AP coverage I've been able to find)

An ankle injury, a stomach bug, a blunt skate — Apolo Anton Ohno faced more than his share of problems during the World Cup season. "I am within striking distance," he said. "Third is not bad. I am right in the mix. It is not 15th or 20th."

AP | South Koreans Win Overall World Cup Titles (short version)

"The Hague was the final qualifying event for national teams to gain spots for the Olympics. The final places, based on a complicated system, will be announced later in the week."

(I have to chuckle at that last line! The AP reporter made heroic efforts to get a grip on short track, but I'm not sure anyone in the entire venue had a complete grasp of the Olympic qualification process. It was fun to serve as Encyclopedia Ohno for him -- whenever he had questions about Apolo or the U.S. team I could help him out!)

US Speedskating | Kepka Wins Bronze in 500m
US Speedskating | U.S. Secures Spots in 2006 Winter Olympic Games

Although no final announcement can be made until all results are tallied, approved and finalized by the International Skating Union, it is evident that the U.S. has secured two spots each for both the men’s and ladies’ teams in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in the 500 meters, 1000 meters and 1500 meters. It is also evident that both men and ladies also have a spot in the relay event at the Olympic Games.

Speed Skating Canada | Olympic spots finalized for Canadians

The men's 5,000 relay final was cancelled due to poor ice conditions. "I’ve never seen that happen in my career but the paint was literally coming off the ice," said Eric Bedard. "We're disappointed not too race it since we haven’t won a relay this season and we are going in as the Games’ two-time defending champion. Our goal is to keep Canada at the top in the relay at the Olympics."

The Advertiser | Skaters face nervous wait

"AUSTRALIA's short track speed skating team believes it has qualified for the Torino Winter Olympics in February - but it faces face a nerve-racking week before receiving confirmation from the International Skating Union."

The Aussies were definitely pretty happy on Sunday night about the prospects of Torino, and counting on it too, but I guess you can never rest easy till the ISU makes it official. Assuming they did get that coveted relay spot, they will then hold their team trials next month in the week between Christmas and New Year's.

Sofia News Agency | Bulgarian Short-Tracker with Silver Medal at World Cup

Posted by noelle at 5:12 PM | Comments (2)

November 20, 2005

Interesting notes after 4 World Cups

Check out these overall rankings -- 4 Americans in the top 10 overall! If Apolo hadn't had an ankle sprain at World Cup #1 who knows if he would be higher on this list, but this has to be the best seaonal result for the USA ever.

Granted, results are helped by the Chinese women and Canadian skaters not being eligible for overall rankings, but nevertheless these are some great results for Team USA and represent another step up for American short track. Way to go, USA!

Overall 2005-06 season rankings - men:
1. Hyun-soo Ahn (KOR)
2. Ho-suk Lee (KOR)
3. Apolo Anton Ohno (USA)
7. J.P. Kepka (USA)
26. Rusty Smith (USA)

Men's team rankings
1. Korea, 2. Canada, 3. China, 4. USA

Men's relay over rankings
1. Korea, 2. China, 3. USA, 4. Canada

Wow. We beat Canada??

Overall 2005-06 season rankings - women:
1. Sun-yu Jin (KOR)
2. Evgenia Radanova (BUL)
3. Allison Baver (USA)
4. Hyo-jung Kim (USA)
60. Kimberly Derrick (USA) (based on 1 World Cup)

Women's team rankings
1. China, 2. Canada, 3. Korea, 4. USA

Women's relay over rankings

1. Korea, 2. Canada, 3. China, 7. USA

Posted by noelle at 12:58 PM | Comments (14)

Short track is a craaaaaaaaazy sport

Women's relay final stopped and restarted - men's relay final cancelled

The refs stopped the women's race with less than 10 laps to go when Allison fell. She was unhurt, but the race was stopped for safety because Allison was in the path of oncoming skaters. The Koreans had also fallen early on in the relay and missed an exchange, which would be an automatic DQ.

Since the race was stopped the Koreans were required to exit the ice since they were already disqualified. And the US team received an automatic DQ DNF because the rule, it seems, is that if a race is stopped for an individual skater, that skater must immediately leave the ice. This resulted in a DNF for the American team.

Can someone clarify this rule? Because I've seen lots of races stopped this weekend for an individual skater and that skater never had to leave the ice.

Also, the skaters are saying they could have continued the relay without Allison, with the 3 remaining skaters. Anyone out there know if this is this true? If they had done so it would have been a guaranteed bronze, but I'm not sure if this is really legal.

Coach Li was livid down there. Everyone was just completely dumbfounded by what's going on, and when the relay was restarted it was a race for gold and silver only between Canada and Germany.

Meanwhile, the latest fiasco is that the men's relay final was at first delayed due to a section of ice worn down to the paint. I know this happened somewhere else at least once before.

[Update] Men's relay cancelled due to ice conditions. I think the decision was made that it's not worth risking further injury under these conditions. The top 8 teams have already been decided and wouldn't change with this relay - only perhaps the order of the top 8.

Interestingly, all 4 teams that would have skated in the men's relay final were awarded 1st place with the US men receiving maximum points for having the fastest winning relay time of the weekend.

U.S. men's relay team waits for ice to be repaired

Apolo, Alex, Coach Li and others try to figure out what is going on

No more skating for Apolo - or anyone else! - tonight

Posted by noelle at 10:34 AM | Comments (15)

3000m bronze for Allison Baver and Apolo Ohno!

This was another hugely successful world cup for the U.S. team as a whole, with 3 skaters qualifying to skate in the 3000m. Allison finished behind the Korean skaters Jin and Choi to earn bronze.

Apolo and J.P. both qualified for the men's 3000, along with 2 Chinese, 2 Koreans and Rodigari of Italy. Lee of Korea and Ye Li of China both decided to lap the pack and succeeded. Rodigari had made a half-hearted attempt a little earlier but was reeled back into the pack.

Apolo glances at Derrick Campbell for guidance during the 3000


J.P. leads in the men's 3000

Apolo at one point made a move to chase Lee and Li before they had completed their lap, and he got a half lap gap on the pack but he decided not to pursue it. Not enough payoff for him, I suppose, in trying to win the 3000 at this point in the competition. Still, he chased down Rodigari and Jiajun Li who were all trying to claim bronze and got it for himself instead. J.P., probably pretty tired from his exertions in the 1000m, finished 7th.

Congratulations, Apolo and Allison!

Posted by noelle at 10:09 AM | Comments (3)

J.P. gets silver in the men's 1000m final!

Congratulations to 1000m silver medalist J.P. Kepka (with Jiajun Li - gold and Hyun-soo Ahn - bronze)

The men's final was completely wild and a little desperate too. It was as if all the skaters were in a panic not to be passed and the jockeying and jostling was non-stop from the gun. Apolo started off at the back of the pack, with JP in front but they soon switched their relative positions with all the passing going on. I couldn't begin to recall the twists and turns, but Apolo was basically in the front 3 skaters throughout most of the race.

He was trying desperately to pass in the final 2 laps and had what I believe was the slightest of slips - or it could have been another stripped edge, I'm not sure. In any case, he slipped back and the ensuing shuffle in the last lap allowed J.P., who was threading his way forward to cross the line for silver ahead of third-place Ahn. Jiajun Li stayed out of trouble in this race and got the gold.

Looking over my photos it appeared that Ahn slipped right in front of Apolo when both skaters were 2nd and 3rd respectively - I know I saw Apolo slip at some point, maybe at the same time. Apolo then dropped back to last, Lee moved into second and Ahn dropped to third. Lee then lost his edge and fell, and that's when J.P found himself in a horse race for silver with Ahn.

I only wish Apolo had finished on the podium as well -- but what a fantastic weekend for J.P. Kepka!

Bottom line: Both men and women locked up 2 spots each for Torino. Allison, Halie and Kristen finished 5th, 6th and 34th overall in the 1000m today, while J.P., Apolo and Rusty finished 2nd, 4th and 22nd, respectively.

Posted by noelle at 9:38 AM | Comments (5)

1000m semis - some wild stuff

Wow, J.P. had quite a topsy-turvy semi final - he started well enough but quickly got passed. There was as expected tons of jockeying for position going on. J.P. looked to be setting up an outside pass to try to move around Ho-suk Lee who was in 2nd, but he slipped in the attempt and fell back to last.

He was definitely not giving up though and kept looking for opportunities when disaster struck in the final lap. First Lee went down, then Wim de Deyne fell. J.P, easily avoided Lee by skating wide, but Wim slid right into his path. I don't know how J.P. avoided going down in the collision but he capitalized on the fall to finish 2nd and move onto his 2nd final of the weekend!

Wim was DQ'ed for 'inside the box' and Lee advanced to the final.

Apolo's semi was just as full of jostling but luckily without the falls. While the details escape me now, there was tons of movement and Apolo made it to the front only to be passed several times. He made it back to the lead till the end when Ahn snuck past him to take the lead and the win.

Ahn edges Apolo at the line - 1000m semi


Allison Baver was unable to capitalize on her inside start position in her semifinal and was 4th off the line at the start. She was racing from the back and trying hard to find an opportunity to move up but none presented itself.

Posted by noelle at 9:03 AM | Comments (2)

1000m quarter finals

Finishlynx is aware of the results not appearing on Cyberscoreboard and they're working on the problem. It's from all the traffic they're getting tying up their server!!

Men's quarter finals

Apolo leads the pack in his 1000m semifinal


We got to see some more Ohno and Kepka magic out there in the men's quarter finals. Apolo was #5 on the line - AGAIN - and didn't get the best start in the world. Within about 3 laps he flew up the inside to take the lead where he stayed for quite a few laps. There may have been some other movement in there. A moment later, I believe Song passed Flou for 2nd and Flou then attempted a pass to move back into 2nd on the last lap. In doing so, he took out Song, who crashed. Apolo literally turned around mid-stride when he heard Song hit the boards to see what happened. Song was later DQ'ed for impeding with 3 laps to go and Flou for impeding on Song in the in the final lap.

J.P., also starting from lane 5, also had to make up lots of ground as he was in the hole from the get-go. He made another brilliant outside pass around the field to take the lead. He was eventually passed by Jiajun Li and finished the race in 2nd, so we'll have 2 guys in addition to Allison Baver as the sole American woman in the semifinals.

Women's quarter finals

Halie Kim evidently got advanced after finishing 3rd in her 1000m heat. She put in a valiant effort in her quarter final. She came from last to make an outside pass all the way around the field but had trouble getting around la Radanova. This allowed Meng Wang to come forward to take over the lead. Halie did get around Radanova for 2nd but I think her efforts cost her as she wasn't able to hang on and got nipped at the line.

Allison Baver finished 2nd in her heat. That was a pretty smooth race for all but the Italian Marta Capurso lost a lot of power and finished a lap behind - victim of another stripped edge, it appears.

Posted by noelle at 8:02 AM | Comments (1)

1000m heats

Men's heats

Wow, I wish you all could have seen Apolo skate his 1000m heat. We really saw the Ohno magic on display! Apolo was 5th off the line and of course he had Ahn in lane 1 in a 5-man field. I think Apolo was last at first but then he wove his way inside to move up a position, then whipped by on the outside, flying past Ahn with 2 laps to go to win the race. I think some of the press here was starting to have their doubts about Apolo after the first 2 days, but his performance in that race made them believers again. It was awesome!

J.P. did a fantastic job in his heat as well. He was in mid-pack for most of the race before getting around Rodigari and all the other skaters in front of him to win his heat as well. Awesome!

I think Rusty finished 3rd in his heat, so unfortunately he won't move on to the quarter finals. Fabio made an awesome move in the final lap to win the race.

Women's heats

Wow, some of the heats are TOUGH! Unfortunately, they stopped two of our three ladies. Halie Kim was in a wicked-tough heat with both Meng Wang AND Sun-yu Jin -- your basic nightmare. That's more like a semi final. Halie finished a very respectable third there. Update: She's on the ice now for the quarters - guess she got advanced! Yay. No announcement was made.

Same thing happened with Kristen Biondo in her heat. She finished 3rd behind the rapidly improving Hungarian Erika Huszar and Canada's Alanna Kraus.

Only Allison Baver moves on to the quarter finals after winning her heat in convincing fashion.

Posted by noelle at 7:08 AM | Comments (1)

1000m prelims

Men's prelims

I left my notes on the men's races downstairs but I know I want to say that the two skaters I feel for the most this weekend are Apolo and Mathieu Turcotte. Though he had to wait for the 20th and final heat to skate his 1000m prelim, Apolo made it through okay. Can't say the same for Mathieu, who was in the same heat with Rusty Smith.

By the last few laps, Mathieu and Rusty were safely 1 and 2 and had a gap on the field - about what you'd expect. Then meters from the finish line, in the corner everyone has been crashing in, Mathieu lost his edge and slid into the wall, finishing 4th -- so his day is over and the Canadian men, coming into this weekend from a superior position of strength, have now presumably lost their final chance to field 3 men in an individual distance at Torino. From what I've heard, Mathieu may now only get to skate 1 distance in Torino. What a pity.

With Mathieu's fall, Rusty finished 1st in his heat as did J.P. Kepka in his.

Apolo, racing last, looked comfortable when 2-3 laps into his race, Lachlan Hay sped around on the outside to take the lead by a meter or two. It was fun to see Apolo react to this -- he wasn't about to let the Aussie get away from him. Apolo closed the gap although the French skater got ahead of him a bit later. Apolo passed him on the outside for first and won the race.

Apolo gets ready to pass Chataignier


Where Apolo would normally be content just to qualify, he and the other U.S. skaters are making sure to win every heat they can to ensure themselves the highest ranking possible.

Women's prelims

Wow - Kristen Biondo did a brilliant job in her prelim! There were 5 skaters on the line and she got off to a strong start but was quickly passed and found herself skating in 4th. She stayed there for most of the race, until with 2 laps to go she started her move all the way around the outside to take the lead and win the race. Very nicely done!

Kristen Biondo makes her move to the front


Halie Kim was 2nd off the line in her prelim but soon found herself in 3rd of 4 skaters. With 3 laps to go she also moved up on the outside past Eun-kyung Choi to take the lead and won her heat.

Halie on her way to the front


Next up was Allison Baver who was 4th off the line, biding her time for a bit in last place till she saw fit to start picking off the skaters in front of her. She made it to the front with ease and glided across the finish line at a comfortable pace.

Posted by noelle at 4:51 AM | Comments (2)

Photos from warmups

We arrived at the arena after women's warmups ended and just before the U.S. guys got on the ice.

It looked like Travis and Alex were being told they couldn't warmup with the rest of the team since they aren't skating individually. This went on for a minute till Li Yan came to the rescue - 'skate, skate' she told them. Li's the boss!

Travis and Alex


Apolo and Rusty at warmups

Derrick Campbell and Li Yan watch warmups

Posted by noelle at 4:00 AM | Comments (0)

Press coverage from the Hague

AP version 1 | Ohno falters, could lose World Cup lead

AP version 2 | After three good World Cup outings, Ohno has trouble in final tournament

The AP reporter here is Belgian and is a very nice guy. We're sitting at the same table in the press room. It's interesting to see how these guys work, and it's the editor of the news publication that assigns the headlines (as we've seen with previous events). Also, there are 2 versions of the article he wrote - one for AP's international service, one for the U.S. wire. MSNBC picked both up and I linked them above.

AP news photos from the Hague are available here.

US Speedskating | Baver Finishes Strong in 1500m
US Speedskating | Kepka Wins Bronze in 500m

CBC Sports | Canada earns 4 Olympic spots in short-track (1500m)

CP | Five more Olympic berths for Canada

Confirms the good news that Canada has 3 spots for its women in the 500 but that sadly lost the 3rd spot for the men in the 500m.

Posted by noelle at 3:34 AM | Comments (1)