World renowned speed coach Bill Begg shares his vast knowledge of skating every week in his "Ask Bill Begg!" column on the Inline Planet.
2007 World Inline Cup Wrap-up
(Editor's note: Bill devotes this week's column to a summary of the 2007 World Inline Cup.)
The 2007 World Inline Cup (WIC) started with a surprise and ended the same way. The common denominator was the Swiss skater Nicolas Iten of the Sportvital Rollerblade team. He opened the season by winning the Seoul World Inline Cup and ended it by winning the Berlin Marathon.
After starting the season like a rocket, Iten (who was second with his team in the time trial in Basel) became the victim of the slippery and tricky Rennes marathon, which was hit by heavy rains and gale-force winds. He crashed in this maelstrom of a marathon and required medical attention.
For all intensive purposes, his season seemed to be over. For a number of races, he did not feature prominently. But in Berlin, his superb conditioning and skating style proved a benefit on the wet racecourse and he scored a victory that shot him back into the top 10 in the individual WIC rankings. What a way to start and finish a WIC season!
In Berlin, Iten benefited from the efforts of a former Berlin winner: the big and big hearted Roger Schneider (Athleticum). Schneider attacked again and again before finally breaking away, but then took a bad fall.
He got up, but four skaters caught him: Iten, Peter Micheal (Powerslide Phuzion), Claudio Naselli (TNT Korea) and the master himself: Max Presti (Bont Hyper).
Over the last five kilometers, these gladiators started attacking each other. Naselli — not known for his strong work in breaks — was the first skater to crack and drop off the pace. But to his credit, he slugged it out at the end for fifth place.
Of the four remaining skaters, Iten finally got the gap while the others looked at each other. It was the youngster (and 2006 triple junior world champion) Peter Micheal who took up the challenge and tried to catch Iten in the last two kilometers.
It was an epic effort: as the finish line crowd watched the action live on a big screen, the 18-year-old held off Schneider and Presti to take second. The irrepressible Presti finished fourth with the WIC trophy firmly strapped to his back for the sixth time.
The ladies WIC started in Seoul with a tame and slow-run race. Some of the new WIC skaters thought, This is great — I can keep up with this mob.
Surprisingly, there were no strong attacks by the usually aggressive Korean women. The slow pace played right into the hands of the strong USA Hyper pair of Jessica Smith and Brittany Bowe. They hung with the pack and then wove their way to the front in the sprint with Bowe taking the victory.
The season ended in an all together different fashion with two two hard-fought battles: the rough and tricky Mainz ZDF studio race and the wet and slippery Berlin Marathon.
While the men's overall title was not in dispute at the end of the season — Max Presti had already wrapped it up — the women's title was still up for grabs.
Rollerblade's Laura Lardani would have had a small lead. But a 10-point deduction for failing to appear on the podium at Biel had cost her. That gave Sandra Gomez (Alessi Powerslide) a four point lead.
The race for third place was also still in doubt after Giovanna Turchiarelli broke an ankle at the World Championships. Tamara Llorens and Nicole Begg both had a chance to sneak into third with first and second place finishes in the last two events.
To add to the spice, two of the world's best women skaters — the Colombians Liana Holguin (former world marathon champion) and Brigyte Mendez (world champion and reigning Northshore champ) — had arrived in Germany for the Mainz and Berlin events.
In the opening laps at Mainz, Begg (SsangYong Jesa Bont) and Holguin worked hard to make a break survive. But then Jana Gegner (Zepto), Nadine Gloor (Athleticum) and Catherine Penan (Rollerblade) caught them and started sharing the lead.
It was Penan's first chance to show her strength in the WIC. When Begg and Gloor dropped Holguin and Gegner with several kilometers to go, Penan stayed with them and then tried to skip clear 500 meters from the finish.
But she wasn't able to get away and had to settle for second behind Begg. Gloor was 3rd, Holguin and Gegner came in 4th and 5th ahead of the bunch, which was led by Mendez (Tru-Rev) and Gomez (Alessi Powerslide).
The ladies lined up in Berlin expecting action — and that's what they got. Sara Bak and Nicole Begg were instrumental in creating a breakaway of 11 that included none of the four Colombians, but all four of the Rollerblade ladies, who were determined to clinch the overall WIC title for Lardani.
With the Rollerblade and Alessi Powerslide teams battling for the WIC individual title, the crowd was shocked when veteran Belgium skater Hilde Goovaerts headed off the late charge of German junior world champion Sabine Berg to win the marathon. Next came the Rollerblade women with Lardani in the lead.
It was the first WIC victory for Goovaerts, who had finished fourth in wet conditions in Rennes. Twelve years earlier in Perth, the 32-year-old Belgian — who lets her feet do the talking — won the marathon at the 1995 World Championships. Like a fine red wine, she apparently improves with age.
It was also the first WIC win for her team: Cado Motus. Team manager Diederik Hol showed his delight by jumping around like a kangaroo in the official enclosure.
Sandra Gomez, skating with a knee injury, arrived at the sprint zone with only one teammate (Nathalie Barbotin) and was only able to manage 11th place. That ended her dream of a World Cup title — at least for this year.
Nonetheless, she finished second overall while teammate Giovanna Turchiarelli was third — all in all, a great showing for Alessi Powerslide.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Burnson