Monday, February 21, 2011

East Coast Carnage

    So, it’s been a little bit since my last post; I apologize for that!  I’ve been pretty busy out here in salt lake and have been traveling a lot as well.  One of the places that I traveled to was Roanoke, Virginia.  For those of you who do not skate who are reading this, there was an inline competition there (trust me, I would pick somewhere different for vacation).  This meet, for about the past 8 years (dating back to when it was originally the Philly invitational), has been the second largest competition of the year behind Indoor Nationals.  And this year was no different.  This also marked the first time a NSC (National Speed skating Circuit) event was held in a city other than Seattle, Washington.  So needless to say, there was a lot of fast exciting skating in the dreary town in southern Virginia. 
    Since there is so much to write about from this past weekend, I’m going to separate this post and make the first one about NSC and the second about the actual meet.  This was not only the first time NSC was held in a city other than the owner’s (Miguel Jose) hometown, but also the first time NSC was held over two nights.  The first night lived up to the hype and boasted some great racing and great crowds.  At the beginning of the night, the house was packed and the skaters were ready to give the east coast crowd a show they would remember.  After two days of waking up at 5 AM, it seemed that some people just simply could not stay up late for the second night in a row.  The second night was not as crowded as the first, but it was still a good turn out and there were still a lot of great races.  The format for the two-day event was a little different than past NSC events.  There were three distances for each discipline (sprint and endurance), two one hundred meter time trials, and one Grand Champions race.  Friday night the races were the 300-meter sprint race, the 1000 and 1600-meter endurance races, and one 100-meter time trial.  Saturday night the races include the 400 and 500-meter sprint races, the 1300-meter endurance race, the 100-meter time trial, and the 800-meter Grand Champions race.  One thing I will say, I’m definitely not making excuses for the way I, or others, skated, but the floor in Roanoke is always a little hard to get used to.  This, combined with the new IQ Atom wheels made it a little squirrelly going around the corners.  This benefited some skaters and hurt others.  It benefited the skaters who are used to skating on smaller tighter floors and hurt the ones who are used to skating on big wide floors.  I’ll say this for Keith Carroll, Jake Powers, and I; spending such little time on inlines because of ice, and then trying to skate on a floor that feels uncomfortable for people who are on their inlines all the time, is not a good thing.  But anyways, on to the racing and the athletes. 
    William Bowen, once again, made us all look like amateurs.  He is skating out of his mind right now.  And its not just that he is skating technically better, or that he is training harder than he has in the past.  I believe that one of the main reasons Will is skating so well right now is that he has a new confidence in himself that he has not experienced in quite some time.  Will has always been one of the best in the country since he was 16, but after the way he skated at the World Championships in Colombia this past year, his confidence is at an all time high.  And by no means am I saying that he is cocky.  Will doesn’t boast his excellence to anyone and is always very humble with his victories.  Will stayed undefeated through the second NSC event this season winning both 100-meter time trials. The 300-meter, 400 meter, 500 meter, and the 800 meter Grand Champion race.  Needless to say, he is on fire right now. 
    Justin Stelly showed again why he is one of the best indoor racers in the country.  Stelly is one of those guys that likes to put on a show, but he is still able to win races.  Stelly came home with two wins in the 1600 and 1300 meter and second place finishes in the 1000-meter and the Grand Champion race.  Stelly will try to take the title from Will in a few weeks at the third, and final NSC event of the season. 
    There were a few things that we saw in Roanoke that we had not seen at previous NSC events.  World Champions Yann Guyader from France, and Wei Lin Lo (Willy G) of the Chinese Taipei were in attendance.  The international athletes added a lot of excitement to the racing.  Second, NSC recruited some athletes who could not make it to the NSC try-outs, and these guys stepped up to the plate, big time.  Corey Bethel, Brandon Andrews, Drew Valinsky, Harry Vogel, Mikey Ratliff, Kevin Carroll, and Ben Carey (hopefully I’m not missing anyone) made an already deep field deeper.  With the addition of these guys and the international athletes, this was probably the deepest field of athletes that I had ever raced with at an indoor competition, including pro men at indoor nationals.  Any of the heats could have been finals, and the finals were just flat out ridiculous. 
    Overall, I would have to say the NSC’s east coast debut was a success.  Most of the people in the crowd had never seen an event in person, and I’m sure that the majority of the crowd was pleased with the event and even happier with the racing.  There are still many things that the NSC is working on and still much room to grow. 
If you guys have anything that you think would make NSC better, please feel free to leave the advice in comments. 

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