(via Wikipedia)


Day one of the 2012 Long Track Speedskating America’s Cup #1/US Single Distance Championships/ World Cup Qualifier trials for long track speedskating are done (See here for why the name is so long) and the two big stories are:  1) Heather Richardson = Awesome and 2) Team Roster = Hard to Know.

Richardson has already proven herself the top US sprinter and today she won not only the women’s 500m in resounding fashion (37.96 – half a second ahead of 2nd), but astoundingly, she then came back later in the day to win the women’s 3k as well in a time of 4.09.39.

Richardson’s 500m was only 13 hundredths off the track record set by China’s Wang Manli.  Not since Jennifer Rodriguez (who won 2 bronze medals in 2002) has there been a US woman who could skate so well across multiple distances.  Richardson’s 3k time was only about 3 seconds off of German Skater Claudia Pechstein‘s track record.

As we mentioned yesterday, much of the drama of this weekend’s trials is on the margin.  Who is going to make the team?  The women’s 500m’s were incredibly close and only 4 make the squad.  As mentioned, Richardson won the race (37.96) in dominating fashion – no surprises there.  Lauren Cholewinski (38.47) and Brittany Bowe (38.59) took second and third places respectively, separated by about a tenth.

22-year-old Sugar Todd made big move today finishing in 4th place (38.94), a little over one-half second ahead of Elli Ochowicz.  Ochowicz, a three-time Olympian, took time off after the 2010 Olympics to work on other projects and might not yet be in fightin’ shape; however, if she doesn’t qualify in this race it will be the first time she hasn’t been on a world cup team in this distance (that she tried out for) since she was 15.

Of course, there is still one more 500m tomorrow and the team is decided by the combined two times so this is NOT the final result.

In the men’s 500m, Mitch Whitmore (35.12) took the win with a slight lead over former World Cup 500m champ Tucker Fredricks (35.28).  Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis (35.60) took third.  Only three men qualify for world cups.

In the women’s 3k after Richardson (4:09.39), Jilleanne Rookard (4:09.70) took 2nd and Maria Lamb (4:13.12) was 3rd.  Three women qualify to go to world cups.

The men’s 5k was an awesome thing to see for the future of men’s distance skating.  Brian Hansen won in a time of 6:27.80;   16-year old (!!) Emery Lehman skated a 6:28.56 for second; and Jonathan Kuck (6:29.86) finished in third.  Although only three qualify to skate at world cups Patrick Meek had a great race (6:33.79) for fourth. UPDATE: Evidently there are 4 spots qualifying for world cups.  Congrats, Pat!

Four US guys skating 6:27-6:33 really bodes well as the team begins to look forward to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

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