A sea of umbrellas adorn the stands. How hot is it? Hot enough for almost every Colombian to have their umbrella up!
Once again we arrived after the completion of the Jr Ladies 1000-meter heats. I can't apologize enough to Team USA, but we are limited as to when we can come and go. Most likely we will just stay at the track today in between the morning and evening sessions to guarantee that we will be here for the start of the 1000-meter finals and the 15K Elimination Race finals.
Right now they are completing the semi-finals for all of the 1000-meter races.
Mariah Richardson made the semi-final in the 1000-meter race. How the skaters move on is determined by the winner of each race, plus the next so many fastest times. Some of the heats have been very slow. This means that usually just the winner will advance on to the next semi or final out of that heat. The other skaters might come out heat 2 or three. For instance they would take the winner and then the next 6 skaters out of heat 2 for a total of 8 to the final. There is always 8 on the line for a quarter, semi or final.
Mariah stepped up to the line and looked ready to skate. But when the gun went off she was 7th off of the line. She had to work hard and never caught up to the two leaders. At one point she was in 5th place on the last 2 laps but did the unthinkable (which is very easy to do when skating under this kind of pressure), she stopped skating before the line and was passed by just 1 or 2 strokes before the finish line. I don't think she expected that. All skaters need to remember.. it is not over until AFTER you cross the finish line!
Next up were our Jr Men. Both of our guys made it out and into the same semi. That happens often and is just dependent upon your finish time from the prior heats. They do a serpentine rotation by times to "seed" the skaters and many times you will have two Colombians, two Americans and two Italians in the same semi. Those are the fun ones!
Keith Carroll and Colin Thomas both skated well in the heats. Thomas from Texas would throw 2 awesome "indoor" late passes to take the lead two different times and the win in his heat. It was not easy, but it was incredible. Keith Carroll who has surprised me at these Championships and appears to get stronger and more confident each race, lead most of his heat (at the World Championships you can't mess around for those of you thinking he should just "sit in the back of the pack") but was just out skated in the last lap. Onto the semi's as I said, both boys were in the same semi. This worked to their advantage as they were able to work together, but not before both boys stumbled off of the start. They had to work double hard to come across first for Colin (he got that from one more of those indoor passes1), 2nd for Colombia at the line and 3rd for Keith in their semi. Colin Thomas won the semi so he is guaranteed a spot in the finals with Keith having to wait until it is announced, but their semi looked strong. (Results were just announced and I only heard one USA number. I can only assume that Keith did not make it. It is now official that Keith did not make the final.)
In the photo to the left, Colin Thomas, in 5th is not letting anybody in!
Next was both of our Senior Ladies. Brittany Bowe was sluggish off of the line and once her feet got moving she skated well until the last lap where she seemed to loose a little of her fire that we have seen. She finished 3rd in her heat which was good enough to move on to the final. Next up was Jessica. She was last off the line... by a lot. She appeared to be ready at the line, until the gun went off. But Jess is a fighter and fight she did. She ended up third in the race and thankfully made the final.
Nicole Begg won her semi (with Brittany looking MUCH better) but it was announced that she was disqualified. It appeared to me that she did not do anything bad enough to warrant a DQ, but I am up here and the officilas are down there. The minute it was announced all of the officials quickly came together and were in a circle talking for several minutes. It did not apear that any one person was upset or waving their hands... they were just talking. A few minutes later, Nicole was reinstated and only given a warning. In Nicole's defense... she is one of the cleanest Senior Ladies out there besides our own.
Senior Men had ten heats... in the heat! At one point between heat 5 and 6, there was about a 30 minute break or "downtime". I do not know why this happened but it allowed us to get some much needed shade. It feels like it is well into the 100+ degrees.
Our Senior Men were fortunate enough to skate in heats 1 and 3 so they were able to take their skates off and get some much needed shade and rest. Joey Mantia skated the first heat. He was the first one off of the line and looked ready to skate. He had to work a bit, but easily made the semi.
Justin Stelly of Kearns, UT, appearing at his first World Championships seemed just a tad bit nervous as he stepped to the line. When the gun went off Justin appeared to react at the same time as everyone else. But stumbled several times. Possibly hitting skates with other skaters. It's always hard to see exactly what happens looking through a camera lens into the sun. So if I mis-state or mis-quote exactly what happened in a race.... I apologize now to the skaters, parents and family. This is such an important race that I always like to make sure that we state everything factual.
Once Justin got his feet back underneath him... he was moving quickly. Again being at World's once your behind, it is very hard to catch up. Milliseconds is all that separates the best in the world. Justin was able to pull up but not enough to move onto the semi's.
Joey Mantia was in the first semi and the first time the gun went off he appeared to have trouble getting off the line which is VERY unusual for him. I believe he was fifth off of the line but the race was brought back by the officials so something must have happened. Joey was ready the second time around and moved first but was 2nd at the first turn behind one of the Koreans, who have been extremely impressive this year. By the 2nd lap Joey was still in second, but this time it looked like an "Italian Sandwich" with Italy in 1st and 3rd but it was obvious to me... Joey wastotally in control. He came around the Italian with a lap and a corner to go, with New Zealand following close behind to easily win his semi. So it looks like we will have the following in the finals tonight:
And lets not forget... we have 8 skaters in the 15K... this will make for some great excitement.
Watch for photos that will be up in a bit. We are on a 3 1/2 hour break and Ananda and I are staying at the track to keep you updated and put some new photos up.
L & A