Saturday’s World Cup races

Dec 15, 2009 in Life

slc-saturday.jpgWho says you have to do things in sequence? A few days late, here are images from the 500m (women, men), 1500m (women), 5000m (men) races from Saturday in Salt Lake City.

This morning I first visited a photo store and obtained a sturdy monopod. This made a huge difference. With the monopod to support the camera and the lens, the equipment is much more steady and makes it much easier to line up a shot. Together this allowed me to shoot at 1600 ISO instead of 3200 ISO yesterday which helps bringing down the noise in the images.

For the 500m races I found a spot just behind the starting line. The starter felt I was too close, that me or the camera’s shutter may distract the skaters and asked me to move back a bit. No problem, especially the start during the sprint distances is a nervous undertaking, so I moved into the stand behind the start instead. The elevation this gave me worked out just fine and thus everybody was happy.

The women’s 500m race was won by Beixing Wang beating Jenny Wolf in a direct race. Jenny had a terrible last turn almost veering way out. Jeremy Wotherspoon had a great start and then on the straight stood up coasting for the remaining 200 meters. It never became clear why.

During the 5000 meters race it was fun to watch Stephanie Beckert leaning over the siding cheering, screaming and shouting her brother Patrick onward towards a PR and German record. Immediately after his finish she had her cell phone in her hands texting the result to friends and family.

The pictures are in the gallery.

Sunday’s World Cup races

Dec 13, 2009 in Life

sunday-slc.jpgToday featured the 1000 meters and the team pursuit races. I was especially looking forward to the team races as they are a lot of fun to watch but was also hoping for fast times on the 1000m races. The previous two days saw many records broken: personal records, national ones and a couple of world records. This is a fast weekend because Salt Lake is a track at altitude and the weather (atmospheric pressure) seems to be cooperating too.

Although, good for the riders that speed skating is no longer really a winter sport what with these comfy indoor tracks. It’s gloomy with a mix of rain and snow.

A correction on Friday’s post: Sven Kramer did obtain an Olympic qualification on the 1500m, he needed to finish in the first 12, not the first 8. So his 9th place was all he needed.

And, in other news, there’s a lovely scandal brewing in the world of Dutch speed skating. During the 2006 Olympics it seems that the Telfort team for whom Greta Smit was riding offered Polish skater Woijcicka 50,000 Euro and a car if she would withdraw from the 5000m race so that Greta Smit could start in her stead. Studiosport.nl posted a video in which Ria Visser gives her “analysis”. Not one of her better moments. First, she complains that an athlete is accused and convicted before all proof is in – forgetting it seems that back in February she accused Pechstein of doping based on rumors. Then her explanation is that everybody makes mistakes so bribing at the Olympics is really no big deal…

Anyways, back to the skating at hand. Do mosey on over to the gallery to see the races.

World Cup speed skating, Salt Lake City

Dec 11, 2009 in Life

erben.jpgThis morning I flew to Salt Lake City in Utah to attend the world cup speed skating tournament that’s taking place here in the Olympic Oval. A 6am flight from Rochester via Chicago brought me here just after the 500m sprint races. That was a pity because Jenny Wolf skated a world record but the schedule didn’t allow otherwise.

The first 3000m women’s race featured Claudia Pechstein. Via a last minute court ruling she managed to gain access to the race while the review of her doping case is pending before a Swiss court. She was here to try and win German qualification for the Olympics later February. For that she needed to ride within 4:03:00 and finishes in the first eight. It didn’t happen.

Ireen Wust rode a good race and had the leading time for a while eventually finishing 4th. Moniek improved her personal record and she was clearly delighted after her race. The dual between Stephanie Beckert of Germany and Martina Sablikova of the Czech republic continued with Martina also winning this race.

Sven Kramer won a wildcard to start in the A group in the 1500m men’s race. He needed to finish in the first eight riders in order to gain an Olympic qualification. He did improve his personal best but in the end there were too many fast men today. Erben Wennemars rode a great race, fast, aggressive and collapsed on the side of the track after his finish so I’d say in good Erben style he gave it all. It was a good time but was apparently disqualified. The speaker in the hall never mentioned any of this. Just suddenly Erben’s name was gone from the leader board.

The race between Skobrev and Makowsky was very close and also Chad Hedrick’s race against Danny Morrison was exciting. But the crown went again to Shani Davis riding a world record and finishing a second ahead of everybody else.

The pictures are in the gallery.

More tomorrow:

  • Women and men’s 500m
  • Women’s 1500m, and
  • Men’s 5000m

Armchair research into world records

Nov 07, 2009 in Life

speedrecords.jpgI was going to rant, in Dutch, about a different topic but a brief twitter exchange with @BartVeldkamp let to this topic instead: comparing men’s and women’s world records.

Bart tweeted that the gold and silver medal winners from the 1998 winter olympics would have finished 4th and 6th in the 1000m women’s race and 22nd & 24th in the 1000m men’s race today at the World Cup Speed Skating in Berlin. Implying that the men’s sport made much more progress in the eleven years than the women’s.

So let’s compare the world records in track&field, speed skating and swimming. And then draw some quick conclusions.

Women
Sport
Distance
Time
Year
Average Age
Track&Field
100m 10.49 1988
200m 21.34 1988
400m 47.6 1985
800m 1.53.28 1983
1500m 3.50.46 1993
3000m 8.06.11 1993
5000m 14.11.15 2008
10000m 29.31.78 1993
Marathon 2.15.25 2003
17.33
Speed skating
500m 37.02 2007
1000m 1.13.11 2006
1500m 1.51.79 2005
3000m 3.53.34 2006
5000m 6.45.61 2007
10000m 13.48.33 2007
3.67
Swimming
50m 23.73 2009
100m 52.07 2009
200m 1.52.98 2009
400m 3.59.15 2009
1
Overall average 7.33
Men
Sport
Distance
Time
Year
Track&Field
100m 9.69 2009
200m 19.30 2009
400m 43.18 1999
800m 1.41.11 1997
1500m 3.26.00 1999
3000m 7.20.67 1996
5000m 12.37.35 2004
10000m 26.17.53 2005
Marathon 2.03.59 2008
7.11
Speed skating
500m 34.03 2007
1000m 1.06.42 2009
1500m 1.41.80 2009
3000m 3.37.28 2005
5000m 6.03.32 2007
10000m 12.41.69 2007
2.67
Swimming
50m 20.94 2009
100m 46.91 2009
200m 1.42.00 2009
400m 3.40.07 2009
1
Overall average 3.59

Across the three disciplines women world records are a little over 7 years old while men’s records are a bit more than 3 1/2 years old.

In athletics it seems that the women’s field still suffers from the 70-ies and 80-ies doping era. It’s not just the infamous East Germany of old: the 100 and 200 meters records are Griffith-Joyner’s. Throwing out these four 1980-ies records the track&field average improves to 12 years and the women’s overall average to 5 1/2 years.

In speed skating it seems that men’s records have a lifespan a year shorter than women’s. In swimming all the records – male and female – were set this year. So I don’t know what conclusion that leads to. However, Bart compared with the 1998 Olympics in Nagano so let us indeed compare the winning times to today’s world records:

Women
Distance
World record
Nagano
Improvement
500m 37.02 38.30 3.34%
1000m 1.13.11 1.16.51 9.01%
1500m 1.51.79 1.57.58 5.18%
3000m 3.53.34 4.07.29 5.98%
5000m 6.45.61 6.59.61 3.45%
Average 5.39%
Men
Distance
World record
Nagano
Improvement
500m 34.03 35.68 4.85%
1000m 1.06.42 1.10.64 6.35%
1500m 1.41.80 1.47.87 5.96%
5000m 6.03.32 6.22.20 5.20%
10000m 12.41.69 13.15.33 4.42%
Average 5.36%

Well then! There you have it!

The women improved their times by 5.39% on average in the 11 year span and the men by 5.36%… or virtually the same margins… or well, so, the conclusion is …. everybody’s doing just fine.

Skate The Bay

Feb 10, 2009 in Life

skatethebay.jpgThis Saturday saw the successful launch of the Skate The Bay speed skating marathon on the bay at Webster, NY. It was a close call; it seems the weather gods are not fully behind the event. Last year it was planned and organized for the first time but then a week before thaw set in. This year the race was held but only just. It starting thawing the night before. Luckily there were 16“ of ice so if one ignored the slowly increasing layer of water one could race just fine.

I missed the first half of the 50km marathon. Its start time of 9am overlapped with the broadcast of the Allround World Championships speed skating in Norway and I couldn’t resist its pull to see/hear how van Deutekom and Kramer et al would do. For several of the marathon racers the distance was quite a distance. There was one very brave soul riding on hockey skates. After the marathon the 1km community race took place. It was a lot of fun to see the young kids sprint away. I put under the steel for a little while as well. Not easy. Natural ice is so much harder than the artificial ice at ice rinks and having had no maintenance for the last 12 years or so my skates aren’t exactly sharp. Still, it was fun.

Originally I planned to also watch the Sunday events but with the high temperatures I didn’t think that was going to be much fun: soo much water. But still, it was great that on the second try the race did take off and together with the organizers I hope this will become a regular stop on the calendar.

Pictures in the gallery.

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