USA Picks Up More Medals

Sept. 20, 2009, 4:59 a.m. (ET)

As another day in China comes and goes the skaters and parents seem a bit more relaxed and ready for action. Tonight the stands were quite full and this was a welcome surprise because it felt much more like the worlds that we are accustomed to. The line-up for the second night of racing was Sophie Webb and Hailey Leech for the junior ladies 10,000 meter point’s race and Mario Valencia and Justin Mannon for the junior men. Briana Kramer and Nastassia Hamor represented the USA for the senior women’s 15,000 meter elimination and Joey Mantia along with Michael Cheek took on the world for the senior men in that same distance. The junior 1000 meter race was also contested with Mario Valencia for the junior men. The junior women had no representatives who made it to the final. Erin Jackson just missed the time in the semi-final coming in 7th place overall. The senior 500 meter sprint would have Joey Mantia in the final. Senior women, Leeza Hargreaves and Katie Grimm competed in the 500 meter this morning but came up short in the heats. Sara Sayasane is still injured and is said to be out of the championships at least for now. We will keep everyone posted on her status.
The evening began with the awards for the senior 300 meter time trial held last night. After this was completed the junior women began their 10,000 meter points/elimination race. The ladies skated incredible but in the end both would be eliminated but Sophie did pick up one point. Sophie made it till the last 5 laps coming in 12th place. The placements were Korea, Korea, Chinese Taipei. After much scuffling about in the junior men’s race, Justin Mannon earned another bronze medal. The USA junior men’s team has not medaled at worlds since 2005 when Chad Horne won a silver medal in the 1000 meter. Justin’s two bronze medals has the entire team and USA spectators encouraged, not to mention very proud of Justin. The placements were Korea, Korea, USA.
In the senior ladies 15,000 elimination Nastassia and Briana were only able to get together one time before Nas would be eliminated. Briana looked much better tonight than last night. She seemed focused and strong. She went to the front of the pack and slowed the race down a little; this is when the pack passed her and knocked her toward the end of the pack. She held on for several more laps but was then eliminated after at lap 22 putting her in 16th place. The placements were Italy, Korea and New Zealand.
Next up in tonight’s events was the senior men’s 15,000 elimination. This race had Joey and Michael battling it out with 48 other skaters and looking very good until a crash that had about 8 skaters on the ground happened around lap 50. At 47 laps the officials stopped the race. Michael had a banged up shin and hit his face on the boards during this fall. One skater was taken off the floor on a stretcher. The race was restarted at 75 laps. At lap 47 another crash happened on the opposite side of the track again taking Michael out. Although he got up after falling over the two that fell in front of him it ended his race. Joey would go on to win gold, his second of the championships. The placements were USA, Korea and Italy.
In the junior men’s 1000 meter final Mario Valencia proved that he will not be pushed around. Italy and Korea tried several times to pull on him and push him out of the way. Mario fought back to retain his position.  Even though he was successful he came across the line in 4th place. Korea and Italy were disqualified but it did not change the placements.
The last event of the evening which the USA competed in was the senior men 500 meter sprint. This race was very fast and the skaters never let up. Joey picked up a bronze medal giving him a total of three medals so far in this competition. The placements were Chinese Taipei, Colombia and USA.
Tomorrow will be a very busy and long day as the seniors skate their 1000s, juniors their 500s and all of the relays to close out the track portion of the world championships.