National Roller Cup

As Usual, Mantia Is the One to Beat

July 22, 2011

Planet report

Joey Mantia ahead at the Texas Road Rash.

Joey Mantia ahead at the Road Rash.

photo: Debbie Rice

Once again, the big question this weekend will be: can anyone keep up with Joey Mantia?

The 25-year-old skater from Ocala, FL, has done nothing this year to detract from his status as the world’s top inline speed skater. He beat a strong field at the Texas Road Rash in April, finishing five minutes ahead of the pack. A month later, he won the Incheon World Inline Cup in South Korea, ahead of France’s Yann Guyader.

This weekend, Mantia will be competing in the Chicagoland Inline Tour. The tour is made up of three races; two on Saturday, a 10 km criterium and 2-mile time trial; and one on Sunday, a marathon.

The event draws a big crowd to Hoffman Estates, IL, including most of America’s top outdoor skaters. Among the top men this weekend will be Bont’s Justin Stelly, who finished first in last year’s NorthShore Inline Marathon, and Sport Quest’s Hank Galbraith, who finished third.

Other top skaters will be Adams Inline’s David Sarmiento and Ty Fidler, Toronto Inline’s Peter Doucet, Powerslide’s Kevin Carroll, Schankel-Kallisto Morgan Williams, and Simmons Racing’s Rob Bell and Alex Fedak.

These skaters won’t only have to contend with Mantia, a 28-time world champion, but with his Luigino/Atom teammates: world champions Michael Cheek and Harry Vogel, and national champions Chad Horne and William Bowen.

Women’s Field

The women’s tour is more of a horse race than the men’s. One of the frontrunners is Bont’s Briana Kramer, 19, of Salt Lake City. Kramer won last year’s NorthShore and this year’s Road Rash.

Both she and her teammate Barbara Navas, 20, of Miami, have a background in indoor skating, which could give them an edge in the multi-race, multi-distance Chicagoland event. While many outdoor skaters train for marathons only, indoor skaters prepare for a wide variety of distances.

Another skater who should be able to handle the various distances is Toronto Inline’s Morgane Echardour. The 22-year-old from Mississauga, ON, won the overall title at the Canadian Outdoor Championships early this month, winning three out of five events.

Other women to watch include Ezeefit’s Janelle Cole and Asphalt Beach’s Candy Wong, currently in first place in the NROC rankings.

Olympian Jilleanne Rookard, who won last year’s Chicagoland Inline Marathon, will be skating, but only in the 10K, due to the demands of her long-track ice training.

Weather or not?

The weather may be a factor this weekend. Forecasters are predicting highs in the low-90s, high humidity and thunderstorms.

The tour starts at 11:15 a.m. CDT Saturday with the advanced men’s 10K Circuit Race. The time trials start at 3 p.m.

The advanced marathon starts at 8 a.m. Sunday; the first wave of the elite marathon, at 9:45 a.m.

Pro skaters earn NROC points in the tour; advanced skaters, in the marathon; youth skaters can earn points in both the marathon and half marathon.

Tour updates will be posted Saturday on the Inline Planet.

Live blog coverage will start at 9:15 a.m. CDT Sunday.

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