Groves & Makowsky Take the 1500m Crowns

Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) and Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK) started 2010 in good fashion when they captured the 1500m titles at the Canadian Long Track Team Selections in Calgary. After two days off the ice, athletes were back in action at the Calgary Olympic Oval, battling for the last few places left on the team that will represent Canada at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Groves crossed the finish line in 1:53.53, more than two seconds faster than second place finisher Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB), who finished in 1:55.65. Brittany Schussler (Winnipeg, MB) was third in 1:56.10.

“The race went very well today,” explained Groves, who has also already qualified to race the 1000m and 3000m, and is hoping to add the 5000m to her Olympic schedule. “I was much calmer than for the 1000m, I skated more relaxed and I’m really happy about that. I had some good laps and ended up with a great time too, pretty close to my personal best [1:53.18, established in 2007]. With the trials, this is such an emotional competition, I guess I managed to put the nervousness behind me after the 1000m and get back to my old self today.”

Groves, Klassen and Schussler should be racing the distance in Richmond next month alongside Christine Nesbitt (London, ON), who chose not to race today as she was already qualified.

On the men side, Lucas Makowsky skated to victory in 1:44.47, followed by Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) who crossed the line in 1:45.34. Kyle Parrott (Minnedosa, MB) took the third place in 1:45.69.

“It was a really good race, both technically and tactically” said Makowsky, still trying to catch his breath. “I was very relaxed going into it, which I liked, but maybe a little too relaxed for how I would have wanted to race it, but it gave me the fight for the end of the race. I got the job done! Winning the 1500m today solidifies my spot on the team, also with the team pursuit, and that’s what I wanted to accomplish this week.”

Giroux also gave himself a nice holiday present by putting all chances on his side to be named to Canada’s Olympic Team. “I would have liked to qualify in the 5000m,” said the young Quebec skater. “Today, I was really nervous, which is unusual for me. I had a false start, so I was really slow for the second start, and my technique wasn’t great, but I’m happy with the end result! There are only eight of us who qualified for all the distance spots, so with eight spots on the team, I feel confident. I’ve made a lot of important decision over the last 13 months, switching to long track, taking a break with school, moving out West, I believed in myself and it’s amazing to see that those choices are now paying off!”, finished the skater who, due to recurring ankle injuries, decided to switch to long track speed skating in the Fall of 2009 with hopes to qualify for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in February 2010.

Makowsky, Giroux and Parrott now have excellent chances to be at the start linee of the 1500m come february, alongside teammate Denny Morrison who was already qualified and decided not to race today.

The Long Track Team Selections will come to an end tomorrow, as women will race the 5000m and men the 10 000m. Canada’s Olympic Long Track Speed Skating Team will be officially nominated in the next weeks.