It was a brisk morning at the Lake Placid Olympic Oval as skaters took to the ice, competing for junior national titles and spots on the junior world team. Athletes who wanted a place on the junior world team had to skate all four individual races. The top five in both Men and Ladies had to earn the lowest cumulative point total from the four events. (Ladies: 500/1000/1500/3000; Men: 500/1000/1500/5000.)
The ladies started the day off with the 1000m as temperatures dropped to 0 degrees. Anna Quinn (St. Louis, Mo.) was the first junior to finish with 1:30.18. She was followed by Blair Cruikshank (Delafield, Wis.) at 1:31.36 and Lindsey Woodbury (Park City, Utah) with 1:31.40. The Men’s 1000m ended with Austin Kleba (Campton Hills, Ill.) in the top spot (1:16.34), Ethan Cepuran (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) in second (1:17.17) and Casey Dawson (Park City, Utah) in third (1:18.76.)
The long distance races were battles against cold temperatures and, in the men’s case, snowy weather. At the end of the Ladies 3000m, Quinn was the top-finishing junior (5:09.88), with Elizabeth Johnson (Orange, Cali.) in 5:12.01 and Madeline Lange (St. Paul, Minn.) in 5:15.25 rounding out the top 3 junior positions.
In the Men’s 5000m, Cepuran was close to breaking Olympian Eric Heiden’s track record of 7:02.29, set in 1980, but finished at 7:05.04 for first place. Dawson ended his race with 7:30.03 for second and Aiden Lewis (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) finished in third with 7:39.14
At the end of the single distance races, the 2019 Long Track Junior World Team was announced. The team will compete at the ISU Junior World Cup Final in Baselga, Italy, Feb. 9-10, and the ISU Junior World Championships in Baselga, Feb. 15-17.
Members of the long track junior world team:
Ethan Cepuran (Overall men’s winner)
Jonathan Tobon (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Will Valentine (Park City, Utah)
Anna Quinn (Overall Ladies winner)
Sydney Terpening (Oswego, N.Y.)
Eric Cepuran, Head Long Track Speedskating Coach at Academy of Speedskating Excellence at the Pettit National Ice Center, and USS National Long Track Head Coach Tom Cushman will coach the junior world team. Mass Start and Team Pursuit Races are scheduled for Sunday at 10 a.m. (EST), but will be cancelled if weather conditions are deemed unsafe. A decision should be made by 8 a.m. tomorrow morning.
“I skated better than I thought I would,” said Anna Quinn. “At junior worlds, I hope to skate well, have fun and enjoy the experience.”
“I’m happy with how the weekend went,” said Ethan Cepuran. “Obviously, I can improve on some things, but I’m excited to go to worlds. I want to come out with a medal in the 5K and the mass start and try to do all I can in the allround.”
“My 3000 was pretty hard, but I’m glad I made it through it for my first one,” said Blair Cruikshank. “I’m very proud of myself. I’m very excited and glad I can be part of this team and go to Italy and represent my country.”
“We have a number of veteran juniors who have progressed and for those guys we’re going to the junior worlds with the intention of doing everything we can to medal,” said Eric Cepuran. “For the first-timers, it’s about gaining international experience but also figuring out how to compete at your best at that level of competition.”
“I thought you guys handled [the weather] very well,” said USS Long Track Program Director Matt Kooreman. “It was very challenging to do an allround for a lot of people. That’s one thing I want in our selection process is for people to be challenged. I want you to be trying to build a robust skill set mentally, physically and technically.”