Home for the holidays - Journal entry by James Monson

Hello,

Merry Christmas everyone and happy New Year. I am currently writing this latest update from my home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The last two weeks have a bit of a roller coaster. I went down to Salt lake City for the second stop on the Essent ISU world cup circuit, most of the time I enjoy racing in Salt lake because it's the only place in the world that has ice as fast or maybe a little bit faster than Calgary. This time wasn't as enjoyable. I had some great races in Calgary the weekend before and following those races I came down with a cold. It wasn't very bad, I was able to train all week and I felt ok, but I knew something just wasn't right. I figured it would last a couple of days and that would be it.

Unfortunately, it lasted a little bit longer. I was still able to race but I was lacking that top end that you need to really get up to speed. I skated 35.62 and 35.67 for my 500m races and my 1000m was 1.13.18. I was satisfied with my 500m races but disappointed with the 1000m. Quite a bit off my personal best. I was still able to maintain an overall ranking of 19th place in the 500m. Jeremy Wotherspoon won both 500m races and remains undefeated in the 500m this year. He is currently the number one ranked skater in the world for the 500m.

After Salt Lake I felt better physically, and was starting to get back to 100%. Which is a good thing because we had our Canadian Championships the following weekend. Otherwise know as trials. Funny thing about trials is it actually causes much more stress than any other competition all year. It's the one competition that decides the world cup and world championship team for the rest of the year. If you don't skate well there you don't get to skate anymore of the world cups, or go to the world sprint championships. Both Jeremy and Mike Ireland were pre-qualified for there spots on the team because of their good results at the fall world cups. The rest of the team has to re-qualify for their spots.

On the ladies side, only Shannon Rempel was pre-qualified in one distance. She still needed to skate to make the world sprints team.

The races started off ok and I placed first in the first 500m. I was last pair with Mark Nielsen. I skated 35.69, another average race. It's the combined time of two 500m races that decides the 500m world cup team. I was last pair in the 1000m with Jason Parker. I had a great start and than had a huge slip and fell in the second turn, I went down pretty hard but was not hurt and did not interfere with Jason's race. I was given a 30 minute break and than had a chance to re-skate. I had to skate by myself and almost everybody had gone home at this time. A few of my teammates were still around to cheer me on.

My time was 1.11.81, not good enough to put me on the 1000m world cup team, but kept my in the running for the world sprints team. The world sprints are decided off the total time of all four races: 2 x 500m and 2 x 1000m.

Because of my fall I was out of the competition for the Canadian title, but with the re-skate I still get a ranking for qualifying purposes. Only problem with that is the next day, the pairs are made from the first day of racing. What that means is instead of being the last pair with all the faster skaters, I am now put in the first pair with the slowest skater. I basically had to skate my next two races by myself. I skated a 35.90 in my 500m and a 1.11.31 in the 1000m. Little slower in the 500m and a little faster in the 1000m.

All in all what all that means is that I qualified for the 500m world cup team. I made the World sprint championship team and I failed to qualify for the 1000m world cup team. Because of that I will now get to go the Nagano, Japan for the world championships, Harbin, China for a world cup, Collabo, Italy for a world cup, Inzell, Germany for a world cup and Heerenveen, Holland for the final world cup of the season. I am also qualified for the World single distance championships in Soeul, Korea.

The World sprints team is as follows - Jeremy Wotherspoon, Mike Ireland, James Monson and Jean Rene Belanger. For the ladies it's - Shannon Rempel, Krisy Myers, Kerry Simpson and Kim Weger. Three out of eight are from Winnipeg. If Cindy Klassen was skating it probably would have been four!! Not too bad.

Anyways that it's for now. I look forward to doing some skating here at the Susan Auch oval and hanging out with my family and friends. I will head back to Calgary on the 31st and I think the team will depart for Japan on the 8th of January.

Take care and god bless,

James.