This competition kicked off the 2021-2022 Olympic season for long track at the Long Track Desert Classic, held at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, UT.
The two-day competition welcomed athletes from across 10 different counties, ranging from youth, to elite, and up to masters skaters. For some athletes, this was their first ever long track competition! To add to the excitement from the competition, the "Fastest Ice on Earth” did not disappoint when it came to doing what it does best; giving skaters fast ice. A total of five National Records, one Junior National Record, and over 110 personal bests were set!
Erin Jackson (Ocala, FL.) started off her competition season off strong by setting a personal best in the 1000m with a time of (1.16,34). "It was great to finally race again! The ice felt pretty fast and I ran some times that make me really excited for the rest of the season" said Jackson. Additionally, she walked away with the fastest women’s 500m time on the first day of racing, with a (37,85).
In addition to the Long Track National Training Program athletes who were competing, the FAST Team also competed, filling up almost every race with one of their athletes. Based out of the Utah Olympic Oval, the FAST Team never misses an event, and for a good reason -- early season racing.
“Having a competition like the Desert Classic gives us the opportunity to get a full race weekend in, early in the season. It is a great way to get into race mode and it is very satisfying to see all the hard work during the off-season paying off. Nothing in training can really take the place of a competition, so I really enjoyed being able to step on the ice and race.” mentioned Sarah Warren (Willowbrook, Il.). Warren kicked off her season with a fourth place finish in the women’s 1000m. “You could really feel the buzz in the oval during the races and it was awesome to see everyone doing so well and setting a few personal bests.”
The weekend’s energy was felt from every athlete who raced; excited to put their hoods on and step up to the line. “It was great to get that first competition out of the way to gauge how summer training helped improve upon weaknesses of last season,” remarked Cooper McLeod (Kirkland, WA.). “[As well as] what areas still need some work moving forward into the Olympic year!” Mirroring Jackson, McLeod also took home the fastest men’s 500m time, with a (35,43).
The next competition for long track athletes will be USS Long Track Fall World Cup Qualifier and AmCup 1 on October 21-24.
Click here for results from this weekend's racing.