A successful start to the Sprint World Cup season

Athletes Journal entry courtesy of James Monson, member of the national team.

1-Essent ISU World Cup Calgary

2-Jeremy wins again

3-Successful weekend

4-VIP Guests

5-Next Stop Salt Lake City

Hello everyone,

1) - I hope everyone is doing well. Getting into the holiday spirit I'm sure. I just finished my first Essent ISU World Cup of the season and it was a blast. What a treat it is to start the season at home. No travel legs, your own bed to sleep in and all your family and friends are able to watch in person.

2) - This past weekend was awesome, not only did the great Jeremy Wotherspoon win two gold's in the 500m, he went on to win a bronze in the 1000m. Mike Ireland also won a bronze in the 1000m on day one. I personally did not bring home any hardware, but I still had a very successful weekend.

(3) - I was skating in both the 500m and 1000m this past weekend. In my first 500m, I had my best opener ever of 9.75 seconds for the 100m split. I had a slip in the first turn and ended up with a time of 35.50. It was still my fastest skate of the year. I place 19th in that race. In the 1000m, I skated a personal best (p.b.) and a time of 1.10.34. I'm very happy with that time considering it's still early in the year and my 1000m is not my strongest event. I placed 23rd in that race.

On day two, I didn't have as good an opener (9.88) but I was able to skate a much cleaner race and finished with a time of 35.35 seconds. Just off my p.b. (35.22). I was very happy with that race and ended up with a 13th place ranking. The good thing about that is I will now be ranked into group A for the next Essent ISU World Cup in Salt Lake City. Group A is the top 20 ranked skaters in the world. My 1000m on day two was a little bit slower, 1.11.61 seconds. I placed 35th. Not good! The race itself felt very similar to day one, but I think I just ran out of gas. Oh well, it was my first full competition of the year and I still felt ok after four races. I will now be group B for the 1000m next weekend.

What was also great about this weekend is that the 500m for ladies and men on Saturday were broadcast live on CBC. Normally that doesn't happen, it was great for those who couldn't make it out to watch or those who live elsewhere in Canada. The rest of the races will be shown next weekend on CBC Sports Saturday.

(4) - Another great thing was my parents were able to fly in from Winnipeg and watch the races. Speed Skating Canada and the organizing committee gave them VIP passes and they were able to enjoy the guest lounge at the oval. In between races they could get some great food and drinks and mingle with other parents of skaters and sponsors of the event. I know they had a great time watching the skating. It really is nice to have the support of your family. You here lots of athletes talk about it, but without the support of your family, it's almost impossible to achieve the dreams and goals you strive so hard for.

All in all, the event was extremely well run, from all the volunteers, to all the staff at the oval who had to help out. I would say that Calgary hands down hosts the best world cups!! Like I said before it's a treat to race at home.

(5) - The next stop for the National sprint team will be next weekend in Salt Lake City. I'm looking forward to building on this weekend of racing and having even better races there. We leave for Salt Lake on Wednesday and come back on Sunday morning. The races in Salt Lake will be run in the evening at 6:30 pm. Friday and Saturday. It's a different schedule than what we’re used to, but like any good athletes we will be able to adapt.

That's about it for now, be sure to check out the rest of the races on CBC this Saturday and you can check for results from Salt Lake on the Speed Skating Canada website at www.speedskating.ca or the ISU site at www.isu.org.

If anyone has any questions or comments feel free to email anytime at monsonjames@hotmail.com.

Talk to everybody soon, James.

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