Night One: In the Books
Well, here we are again. Yesterday started off with the 300 meter heats but the event was interrupted by rain and we had to come back 4 hours later. The thought was to run the senior men’s time trial heats at 4 pm. But, as luck would have it, the rain came down once again. The sky did clear up and racing did get underway. All the races were able to take place but then the rain happened once more. This time, it happened with only 2 or 3 senior men left to skate their 300 meter final. The race was suspended and the entire group re-skated this morning.
Joey and Will both made the final and although it was not officially announced, it was said that Will broke the world record in the heat with a time of 24.243. That time was broken in the final by Munoz of Colombia with a time of 24.009. He would take first, Joey second, and then Will with a time of 24.313. Although the other 300 meter skaters for the USA posted respectable times there were no other placements for the United States.
The first night of racing pressed on for the 15K elim for the juniors and the 10K points/elim for the seniors. Darian O’Neil and Alyssa Franklin made explosive debuts at their first world championships. Darian went to the front almost immediately and remained there for much of the race. Darian seemed to be in total control and you could feel a sense of urgency on the other teams. They were not expecting this. The USA duo fought hard to get together for over half the race but Alyssa was eliminated leaving Darian on the track with some surprised skaters. After a hard fought battle with bumping, pushing and pulling for much of the race on the part of all those in contention, Darian was eventually eliminated. Colombia ended up with the gold and the silver medals, Germany took third.
Mario Valencia was the first of Team USA to medal. Much like his teammate Darian, Mario controlled the elimination race by going on two long breaks and remaining at the front of the pack most of the time. There were many falls and his partner Drew Valinsky found himself jumping over a couple of them and still remained on his skates. Drew would eventually be eliminated but made his world’s debut a memorable and impressive one much like Darian and Alyssa. Mario went on to battle it out with the Colombians and Korean’s. He was headed for the final lap when a crash happened that he had to jump over. This was just enough to give the Colombian and Korean a big enough lead that Mario could not catch. The final coming across the line was Colombia, Korea, USA.
The bad news for the senior ladies and the senior men when it came to the point/elim was that it was just a tough night. The good news, is that there’s more opportunity. There are no words to describe the look on the faces of skaters who truly love what they do but just have something go wrong, whether it is skate issues or legs not working they way they need to when they need to.
As of right now, Team USA has 3 medals. Two bronze and one silver. Today is a new day, with new chances and the opportunity to see more smiles.