Illinois natives Shani Davis and Brian Hansen of Chicago with Jonathan Kuck of Champaign at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
It's been a cold winter, but with a lot of snow cover and a busy schedule, the editor wasn't able to achieve a Hennepin Canal skate. Too much logistics. Let us know here at Illinoistocht if you had any winter adventures on skates or skis on either the Hennepin or the Illinois and Michigan Canals.
The Dutch dominated the 2014 Winter Olympics in terms of long track speedskating. Of 36 medals for 12 events, the Dutch dominated and won 23 total medals and 8 gold medals. Since 1992, in any sport with more than 18 medals awarded, this is the highest percentage of overall medals in ANY sport for a single country (Austria won 14 of 30 alpine medals in 2006) and ties the 75% of the gold medals South Korea had in short track in 2006 (6 of 8 gold medals). It was surprising in that some of the US skaters likely would have been more competitive given good performances at this season's world cup events.
There have been a lot of theories, notably about the Under Armour speedsuit being slow or something about the training methods of the US skaters (which is on an ice set at altitude allowing for a nicer glide in their stroke), or numerous other theories. Of course the USA skaters raced in their World Cup suits in the later events at the Sochi 2014 games with similar results. As to the brine-icemix-altitude-glide theory, Shani Davis had had good performances with a first and a podium finish at near-sea-level Astana, Kazahkstan and Berlin, Germany, and other skaters from both USA and other nations fared better as well, so this may not explain things.
Here's a theory--the Dutch have had one thing in recent years--very cold winters where it was very close that an Elfstedentocht would be held, a first since 1997. All these Dutch people grow up with skating as their national sport, and the last few years they've been able to have and canal skating and the Elfstedentocht in their dreams. So Shani, Brian, and Jonathan, good luck at the upcoming worlds in March, there's always next year, and just a reminder from this blog to think about canal skating.
Editor - Jim
This blog weighs in on topics such as long-distance skating, the Illinois canals, cycling, and a variety of related (and occasionally not-so-related) topics. I'd like to correspond with others interested in skating the Hennepin and I&M canals.