Saturday, November 3, 2012
Heather Richardson finishes sweep
WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Heather Richardson added a second 500-meter victory and a record-setting win in the 1,000 Saturday to give her a sweep of the first four women's races at the U. S. Long Track Speedskating Championships.
Richardson took her second 500 in 38.27 seconds and the 1,000 in a Pettit National Ice Center- record 1:14.00. She shattered the old mark of 1:15.50 set on Nov. 26, 2005, by Jennifer Rodriguez, who won bronze medals in the 1,000 and 1,500 races in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Her two wins gave Richardson the 500-meter title with a combined 76.230 points, 0.670 better than Lauren Cholewinski, who finished second both Friday and Saturday in the 500. Richardson also captured the 3,000 Friday.
Mitchell Whitmore won the men's 500 for the second day in 35.25 seconds and Shani Davis took the 1,000, the distance he won gold at in the last two Winter Olympics, in 1:08.45.
Richardson was happy about her track record but so exhausted she needed a dose of oxygen before talking to reporters.
"That was exciting. I knew I had a chance, but I just wanted to go out and skate my own race," said Richardson.
National coach Ryan Shimabukuro was impressed with her race and said he believed it was one of the fastest ever skated on a track at sea-level.
The record was especially impressive after she won Friday's 3,000, a distance the sprinter normally does not tackle and which tired her out. Coupled with her overall dominance in the competition, Richardson was pumped up about the World Cup season that begins Nov. 2 in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
"It's making me really excited. I can't wait to get to the first World Cup," said Richardson, who last season won seven cup races.
Richardson also won four races last December when the U.S. National Championships were held here. She could make it a five-race sweep Sunday by taking the 1,500.
"I just hope I can go home tonight and recover," she said.
Davis is accustomed to dominating at 1,000 meters in any competition. But the victory made him extremely happy because his winning time was just eleven-hundredths of a second off the Pettit track record of 1:08.33 he set in 2005.
"It was a good race, start to finish. Very strong, good technically, good speed," Davis said. "I'm very excited about the results."
Davis admitted the fine time bodes well for his World Cup season. But he is not letting the great time weaken his resolve to keep improving.
"It's just a stepping stone," Davis said. "This race moves me that much closer to getting stronger for the next race and the next."
His next race is Sunday in the 1,500.
Despite being U.S. Speedskating's biggest, most visible star for a decade, Davis has often clashed with officials over sponsorship and other issues.
Davis does not allow his image to be used on the U.S. Speedskating website or in its media guide. But after training at the Pettit for several years, Davis has moved to Salt Lake City to work more closely with the U.S. team, which is based there.