Team USA Arrives in Colombia
As I write this, Team USA has been in Colombia for three and a half days. Based on my conversations with team members, things appear to be going well. They arrived Friday evening late (August 10th, 2007) and had their first practice Sunday morning.
The skaters say the track is very similar to the one in Colorado Springs with the hump right out of the corner and down the straightaway. It’s banked in the turns like our track but is much wider all the way around.
Some skaters think this could help Team USA. Others have their doubts. U.S. skaters are famous for their ability to handle tight turns. But with these wide turns, that won't be an advantage since skaters will be able to "rail" the turns.
As I understand it, Monday morning’s practice left a little to be desired. The World Championships start with the track races, but the Colombian organizers scheduled our skaters to practice on the road! Through the grapevine, I heard that our skaters didn’t like the sound of that any more than I did, so they asked a couple of the teams that were scheduled to practice around the same time on the track, if they could come join them. They agreed and so Team USA hit the track once again. ... Give me a break – the road course?!
With at least 30 of the 48 teams that have officially registered, already in Colombia, the Federation cannot possibly put all of the teams on the track at the same time. We understand that. Typically they put about 50 athletes on the track at one time. So it might be Team USA (24 athletes), New Zealand (approx 16) and then Canada (6 – guess-timate) on the track at the same time.
Depending on how many teams are in Colombia on any given day, each team will practice anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, twice a day. Most hosting countries try to mix the times so that the teams have an opportunity to practice at all times. They might come in at 8-9am and then back at 3-4pm. The next day might be 10-11am and 5-6pm. This allows the skaters the opportunity to test the track conditions at all different times. But from earlier reports (on the BONT site) it sounds as if Colombia is not being a “host friendly” site, which is unusual but not unbelievable.
With my arrival tonight and a little sleep (that’s all I’ve had the last few days trying to get ready), I should be at the track tomorrow to see for myself. Please come back daily as we will update our blog at least once a day and more often if time permits.
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