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US Masters rock the Winter World Masters Games

By Andrew Love | Jan. 24, 2020, 12:04 p.m. (ET)

The USA masters long track athletes skated exceptionally well in the Innsbruck 2020 Winter World Masters games, taking home 18 medals across deeply competitive age groups and multiple distances. The WWMG showcased 3,300 athletes, in 12 sports, from 59 countries, competing at the top of their game.

More than 250 international athletes, including former Olympians and Olympic medal winners, competed on the 400m outdoor track of Olympia-world, the site of the 1976 Olympic Games. There was beautiful weather for events early on, but Saturday’s competition day brought a snow-rain mix that was extremely challenging.

Leading the charge for the USA masters was Barb Johnson (Wisconsin Speedskating Club) and Vince Morris (Doylestown, Penn.).

Johnson ran the table with first-places finishes in the Women’s 65, 500m,1000m, 1500m and 3000m, setting a new masters outdoor world record in the 500m. “The meet was really challenging, ice conditions not really favoring my style of skating, but it was fun nonetheless,” she said.

Winning the gold and setting a 1500m outdoor masters world record, Morris also took a gold medal in the Men’s 70+ 3000m, and sliver in the 5K and 10K.   

“There were three takeaways that separated this meet from other previous masters top level events I have done,” Morris said. “The town of Innsbruck was absolutely incredible, the masters games with so many countries and athletes was electrifying, and finally going head to head with the top Europeans and other nations was a unique athletic challenge.”

Nathan and Kathy Feinberg (New York Speedskating Club) had a great weekends of skating as well with Nathan winning silver in the Men’s 60, 5000m and 10000m. Kathy finished third in the 3000m and endured freezing rain and snow-covered ice to place second in the 10000m

“I really appreciated all the support of the other North Americans cheering me on,” Kathy said.

Boris Leikin took on the largest category in the entire meet, Men's 65, and scored gold in 500m and silver in 1000m. In his first international masters event, Uel Archuletta skated through snow and slow ice to earn a Bronze in Men’s 50+ 1000m. Marty Haire fought through the pain of a hip injury to earn a Bronze in the Men’s 55+ 1500m.

Andrew Love, skating in one of the fastest overall categories in the meet, took Bronze in the 500m Men’s 45+ and Nicole Zayetz earned a third place in the Women’s 40+ 500m.

Most of the US masters team will travel to Collalbo, Italy, to participate in the 29th Masters Allround games. Haire, a 3-time allround games champion and veteran of eight allround games is ready to go.

“We are all looking forward to experiencing the venue of Collalbo,” he said. “We know it’s a favorite destination of many Dutch masters and national team skaters. We aren’t looking forward to the thin air as much, but the experience and Italian food and wine should be fantastic. We are in good spirits as a group and are keeping it light and fun.”