5th Masters World Sprint Championships, Salt Lake City
World Sprint Champion age 55-59, again!
There were 92 men and women skaters from 10 countries. Ages ranged from 30 to 84. There were 19 masters world records achieved. There were 181 seasons best times reached. There were 91 personal best times achieved. We raced the 500 and 1000 meter races each day. The combination of time from all four races determined the winners in each 5 year age categories.
The Olympic Oval is the fastest ice on earth. We get to come and skate not only our fastest times of the season but for some of us the best times of our lives. We prepare for this event all year. I was not sure until last week, due to work schedules whether I would be able to attend. This would be the last event of my skating season. Make it count. Leave everything on the ice. Having already achieved a great deal this season, here was an additional opportunity to do more.
Continuing my training taper from American Cup from 2 weeks ago for this meet was easy. Just recovery work and couple of stimulating bike workouts. Getting a bad cold 5 days before the competition, forced me to sit down for a couple of days. I probably needed the rest more than anything.
I flew out to Salt Lake on Thursday early enough to get in 30 minutes of easy skating and the ability to touch the ice. Since I was just in Salt Lake two weeks ago, the transition to this ice was easy and fast.
My fellow masters skaters were a welcome sight. Reconnecting with old friends that have shared my journey as a masters skater is a real treat. I met new friends and made bonds that will continue for a lifetime. We may not be people who would normally mix. From such varied backgrounds, and cultures all over the world we have a common ground in our love for this sport. This is my tribe. We share a bond in the humility that skating shows us. This sport exposes our very souls. It shows us who we are, and what we are made of. To share this inward journey with my fellow masters is deeply satisfying. We get to catch up, eyeball to eyeball. Laughing, crying, realizing our goals, showing our frustration, learning something new, growing, rejoicing, supporting one another on our individual paths.
Friday evening is the team leader meeting, the opening draw, and a nice reception for all the skaters. Saturday we start racing at 9am. Everyone is nervous with anticipation of the upcoming racing. Andrew Love, a fellow Masters World Champion, and competitor, is the meet director. From my perspective as a skater the meet came off flawlessly. We had everything we needed to perform at our best. Andrew and his volunteers pulled of a great event that culminated on Sunday evening with a banquet and awards ceremony for all.
The masters skating community is like nothing else I have ever experienced. During the competition you get to see fierce competitors wish each other good luck at the start, then congratulate each other on a fine effort at the end. Yes, we race to win. We want the visible recognition of the record, the title, the trophy. But we also race against ourselves. You can ask any skater what his personal best time is and without hesitation you get an answer. We all know where we are and how we are doing. Progress is the goal. Celebrating those personal best times achieved is so important and so satisfying. We train very hard, we put our souls into this work. We want and need validation that we are making progress and here is the showcase in front of our fellow tribesmen. We are committed to this work and here is our accountability. The anticipation before racing is when we coming to grips with the reality I have helped to create by my actions. I now trust that I will get the results that I am supposed to get. Sometimes it is a hard fact to swallow but I chose this path and now comes the time for the visible, tangible, reality. This is the journey we share.
Victor Van den Hoff from the Netherlands is my closest competitor in my age group. We are paired together in every race, head to head. We get to skate both distances each day. Switching starting lanes for each distance to keep everything even. In a nut shell, I won every race in my age group. I also placed very high among all the age groups in every race as well, from 5th to 7th. I was very consistent, my trade mark. Technically I was skating very well. The first 500 I did a seasons best 38.75, masters world record. The next race the 1000, I also did a seasons best 1:16.46, and masters world record. Sunday 500 a touch slower at 39.15 but very solid after a slight slip on the start. The final race was the 1000. My attitude shifted before this race. I was having fun! This is my favorite race. It fits my personality and style the best. I love to go fast in this race, manage my energy systems, feel the pressure into the ice, set up the high speed turns, make my technique work to be efficient as possible, give it my all, knowing I have done my best. Cross the line, 1:16.15. Another seasons best, world record. The combination of all four races was also a world record. Victor was also skating well, he also achieved many seasons best times this weekend. Great work Victor! Great work everyone! You can see all the results on speedskatingresults.com. Search for the 5th Masters World Sprint Games Salt lake, March 16-17, 2013.
On my way home now at 35,000 feet reflecting on the great weekend. Pledging to keep in touch with my tribe over the summer. I take stock of my goals for this season and reconcile my progress. I am already thinking about what is next. Skating has taken a great deal of time this year and my priorities must shift back to a more balanced life. Connecting to my wife, and family most important. Rest and recovery work for a couple of weeks. Then onto planning for the next season and the upcoming Olympic trials this December. I am already thinking about playing some golf and tennis soon. B-777 school is coming up as well for me (about 6 weeks in Denver for that). Onward, upward, higher, faster, farther, the choice is mine. Getting better and going faster is more about intention and choices than age.