It's almost summer, so a quick post looking back at the winter.
The Hennepin Canal managed to freeze nicely this winter several times with the usual winter cold spells, but snow cover was a problem and rough ice a problem in other places. There wasn't, unfortunately, a nice window of several days with the perfect conditions to produce smooth, snow-free ice over the length of the canal. Wait 'til next year as they say. If you did have a good skate in the area, please share your stories and / or photos with this blog.
Since this is Illinoistocht, a few kudos to the Illinois native speed skaters at the international level of the sport. Shani Davis (Chicago) won the overall World Cup circuit title for the 1500m distance and came in third for the 1000m standings, while he skated to gold at the Single Distance World Championships at the 1000m distance. In the longer distances, Jonathan Kuck (Champaign) placed 5th overall in the 5000m World Cup points standings. Other notable performances by US skaters included a 1st place in the World Cup standings for Heather Richardson (North Carolina) in the Ladies 1000m distance. Other Illinois skaters included Brian Hansen (Chicago), with several solid meets including a 6th overall in the Allround Championships, and a 3rd place finish at that meet in the 1500m. All in, the US long track skaters won 33 World Cup medals, 8 World Championship medals, and 2 World Championship titles.
In Short Track, Champaign's Katherine Reutter won gold in the 1500m and bronze in the 1000m World Championships in March, and clinched the overall title in the 1500m as well. On the men's side for the US short track speed skaters, Simon Cho of Maryland won gold at the World Championships in the 500m, which also placed him atop the overall World Cup standings at that distance. As US Speedskating put it, it was "...the first time in 35 years an American duo has led the overall World Championship standings." Overall, the US short track skaters won 35 World Cup medals, 7 World Championship medals, and 2 World Championship titles.
For more on the teams, and several other skaters from Illinois and other places in the USA, see US Speedskating or better yet their new site Up to Speed or on Universal Sports, which did televise the World Short Track Championships and a few of the long track events as well.
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.