Speed skating

Colombian Waits For Sprint to Make His Move

Julian Rivera, Courtney Bellais Wins Mardi Gras Marathon

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

Colombian Julian Rivera pulled away from the lead pack about 300 feet from the finish line to win today's Mardi Gras Marathon in Lafayette, La.

Rivera, 20, was followed across the finish line by two members of the 2005 U.S. World team: Sebastian Cano and Jonathan Garcia.

Junior World Team member Courtney Bellais, 16, won the women's race.

The race was held on a 1.1-mile section of Cajundome Boulevard in Lafayette.

The boulevard is a Mardi Gras parade route. As a result, race volunteers had to walk the course in the early morning and pick up Mardi Gras beads tossed during Friday night's parade.

Despite a wet forecast, no rain fell until after the award ceremony.

The race was not dominated by any one skater, although Rivera, a member of the Fila USA racing team, was never far from the front.

"The lead rotated a lot," said race director Jim White. "Julian was pretty strong, but it was not as though he was on a constant breakaway."

A pack of about a dozen skaters reached the final straight-away together. "With about 300 feet to go, the pack started to spread out and Julian pulled away and increased his lead," White said. "You could see that he was in control."

Cano finished about ten feet behind the Colombian; Garcia another six feet further back.

In December, Rivera won the South American Inline Cup in Buenos Aires. Last summer, he was second (behind USA's Joey Mantia) in the marathon at the World Speed Skating Championships in China.

Bellais, the women's winner, raced with the lead pack for the entire race. "It was an outstanding performance," said Bont's Debbie Rice.

Bellais, 16, finished second in the marathon at last year's junior national championships in Colorado Springs.

About 50 skaters raced in today's event. "Many skaters canceled at the last minute because of the weather forecast," Rice said. "Had that not been a factor, there would've been many more participants."

The official starter for the event was Lafayette parish president Joey Durel.

"After the race, he was so impressed that he promised that the city will help promote the event next year," said race organizer Peggy Chiasson.

Top Finishers

Pro Men

  1. Julian Rivera (Fila USA)
  2. Sebastian Cano
  3. Jonathan Garcia (Simmons)
  4. Jordan Nelson (Bont North America)
  5. Jimmy Blair (Tru-Rev)

Pro Women

  1. Courtney Bellais (GT Speed)
  2. Cassie Spink
  3. Laura del Rio (Fila USA)

Pro Master Men

  1. Norm Kirby (Bont North America)


(posted on Feb. 25, 2006)

Related reading

Inline to Ice Olympic Coverage


Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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