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This week's column:

Top 10 Skaters of 2012: Women

Jan. 2. 2013




Q[Editor's note: We dispensed with the usual column format this week and last to ask Bill for his list of the top inline speed skaters of 2012. Last week, he gave us the men. Here are the women ... or as he says, the ladies:]

Ask the Coach!

1) Francesca Lollobrigida (Italy)

The Blonde Bombshell, Barbie Doll … Call her what you may, she took no prisoners in 2012, claiming two gold, three silver and two bronze medals at the World Championships in Italy. Her two golds came in points races, in which only the best and toughest can win. The pressure was on to win at home and Lollobrigida performed like a movie star.

2) Kelly Martinez (Colombia)

Martinez had a good season at home, then waged a successful campaign in Italy, winning the 15,000-meter elimination on the track and setting up her teammate, Carolina Upegui, to claim the 20,000-meter title on the road course. Martinez once again proved herself a tough, seasoned competitor and team player.

3) Guo Dan (China)

Guo was a contender at previous world championships and missed the big show last year due to a coaching dispute. But she came back tin 2012 to win the 1000-meters at Worlds with a daring early move that proved that sometimes you have to brisk failure to reach the top. She took the punt early and gave it everything while the rest of the ladies looked at each other. It was a great victory and the first World Championship for China.

4) Victoria Rodriguez (Argentina)

This big, strong female finally realized her potential, putting on a great show at Worlds to win the 200-meter time-trial. She follows in the footsteps of the great Argentine sprinters Nora Vega and Andrea Gonzales.

5) Erika Zanetti (Italy)

She had a rough start at Worlds. She had no luck in the time-trial, although other skaters got away with false starts. Then she was robbed in the 500-meters on track. Fortunately, she prevailed in the 500-meters on the road course. It was a popular and deserving win for a clean skater respected by all.

6) Cecilia Baena (Colombia)

It was a quiet year for World Cup star. She decided to focus on the World Championships and so cut back on her European and Asian racing schedule. At Worlds, she was disqualified in one of her track events but came back to win, as her team’s designated finisher, in the marathon.

7) So Yeong Shin (Korea)

One of the impressive Korean sprinters, she doesn’t venture out of Asia often. But look out when she does. In Italy, she won the 300-meter time-trial.

8) Manon Kamminga (Netherlands)

She shined on Day 6 of the World Championships. A rain horse, she earned silver in the 500 meters and gold as part of the winning 3000-meter relay team. In all, the Dutch won five medals on Day 6.

9) Yi Seul An (Korea)

Another excellent Korean sprinter, she won the 500-meter track sprint at Worlds.

10) Renata Karabova (Slovakia)

Karabova proved you could come out of nowhere and — with dedication and persistence — capture a major world title. The Slovakian won the 2012 ladies title of the World Inline Cup, earning the final spot on my Top 10 list.

Cheers, Bill

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