American Masters! Attention!

To the right of this entry are images I’ve taken of European Masters athletes, what photos can’t convey are the warm & friendly conversations I have had with many of the good folks pictured here.

This year, World Masters Speedskating Championships will be in Calgary, Canada from February 22nd to the 25th.

Registration opened October 10th. The Canadians have already filled their quota of 91 skaters, the Dutch are sending 70, 50 Norwegians will participate, as well as a “bracer” of Germans, a “blizzard” of Finns, a “precision” of Swiss, and an “enthusiasm” of Italians.

The USA has been offered 51 starting spots, and so far, according to Ross Hanham’s excellent Masters speedskating newsblog, we have only filled 11!! December 10th is the absolute deadline!

My fellow Americans! Let’s show up and rock!! I can think of at least a couple dozen American skaters, who represent the best of this sport (in both soul and speed) who really ought to be on that starting line.

From a technique & fitness perspective, I think American Masters stack up very well with the rest of the world. You can download the entry blank and find more information on the Calgary Oval website.

Masters Worlds are a truly unique opportunity to line up with skaters from other countries in a “world-cup” style atmosphere, and share in the wonderful camaraderie that results.

Many say that Olympic sports are unique because athletes “do it for the love of the sport”. I would argue that this is more true on the masters level than any other. With the multitude of obstacles older athletes face, to step to the start line when you are over 30, usually means you simply just LOVE to skate.

In this spirit, and essential to these events are the large group banquets that happen. English seems to be the default language that the Europeans use to communicate with each other, so even for the average monolingual American, it’s easy to chat with folks.

I have just been offered the position of US rep to the IMSSC, the organization that runs these events, as Mary O’Donnell is stepping down, and I have truly enjoyed the half dozen Masters International races I have been to. Usually I go to the sprint classic in Inzell or the Masters International in Milwaulkee, but I just can’t miss this Calgary race, even though it’s an allaround meet, and my 5k will be good for a laugh for anyone watching. 12.5 laps!! In a row!! ouch!!

When you really come down to it, racing is one of the most effective memory making machines there is, and some of my best memories are from Masters International Events.

11 Responses to “American Masters! Attention!”

  1. Andrew,

    I’m glad you posted about the Masters’ International. Peter Blokker from Canada pulled me aside when we were competing in Kamloops, BC two weeks ago. The camraderie between masters is unbelieveable and to comment on the purpose for pleasurable skating is paramount. We love this sport, mostly because the quality of people it attracts are usually of the most genuine qualities.

    It amazes me to see someone who is 50+ skating a 51 or 50 500m in ST, let alone some of the times in LT. I will be skating in the Masters in Calgary and taking the road trip from NW Washington (about 10-12 hours of driving vs 12-15 from SLC).

  2. Thanks Andrew - yes, it would be great to see 51 or more American masters in Calgary!

    And congratulations on your nomination as the USA representative to the IMSSC. Much appreciation to Mary for her many years of service - hoping we’ll still see her on skates.

    As for your 5K, it should be a lot less painful than our frozen see-saw struggle in Ottawa several years ago.

    Looking forward to seeing you in Calgary and possibly Milwaukee the weekend before.

  3. And hey, the next weekend is the World Cup Finals in Calgary. Stay another weekend and watch the world’s greatest on the SECOND fastest ice!!! What else could one ask for????

    Oh, I know… to be able to actually skate. hahaha

  4. Or if you don’t get enough ice time in Calgary, you could do a few miles in the Sylvan Lake Marathon on March 3/07.

    See http://www.slimarathon.com/

  5. Ross and Andrew,

    Thank you for the great updates… Andrew congrats on your skating in USA. You guys are a great inspiration to all Master speed skaters. Keep up the great work and will see you in Calgary.
    Kevin Frost and Nemo( my guide dog)

  6. I am one of the 11 who is already signed up! (just the mention of a “quota” that might perchance be filled before I got my application in had me sweating and racing to fill out the form!). It’s Masters, it’s metric…what’s not to love? I can’t wait, and I know there are several other Minnesotans who are planning to go…I’m urging them to sign up as soon as possible! (Last I looked, the form was not available on the US Speedskating website…I had to go to the Calgary Oval site).

    See y’all there!

  7. It does sound great! Personally, although I would love to race and will miss going to Calgary, it is just not always possible to travel, between airfares and missing days of work. Hey, for any race organizers reading Andrew’s blog, I hope you at least feel good counting my enthusiasm even though you’re not counting my entry!

  8. Is Calgary the worlds SECOND fastest ice? Who’s to say. It’s not the ice that’s fastest in Salt Lake, after all, it’s the air.

  9. for my 2 cents, the difference between Calgary & Salt Lake is awfully small, and not noticeable by anything other than the stopwatch on a handful of the fastest skaters in the world..

    maybe on their absolute best days, when the ice is world cup thin and a low pressure weather system is around, Salt lake might have a tiny edge, due ot the extra altitude, but that tiny edge is meaningless when a world class athlete has a fantastic race, if you look at them, Salt Lake & Calgary are about even in holding world records right now…

    One thing that is definately noticable between the two rinks is the corners feel quite a bit sharper in calgary, it changes races slightly.. makes the 500 a bit harder and distance races easier, as you can “slingshot” out of corners much better

    or at least that is what a lot of distance skaters tell me, however I did skate my 3k PB in Calgary….

  10. I hope that all of the Masters skaters going to Calgary have a wonderful time. It is always a fun event.

    If you are going to be the US rep to the IMSSC you need to work to make sure that this event does not conflict with the US National Short Track Championships. This prevents many US Masters skaters from attending.

    Good luck to all!

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