Re-cap of my trip to Asia - Journal entry courtesy James Monson, member of the national speed skating team.

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

1-World Championships- Nagano, Japan
2-Essent ISU World Cup- Harbin, China
3-Focus on upcoming world cups


I have returned home, back to Calgary, safe and sound. I am glad to be home as you always appreciate things at home after you've been away for awhile. I just finished racing the world championships and the third World cup of the season.

(1)- The world championships were held on Nagano, Japan, home of the 1998 winter Olympics. We raced in the M-wave. That's the name of the oval in Nagano. We arrived in Japan about 1 week before the competition. It gave us enough time to adjust to the time difference. I was fortunate to adjust pretty good and didn't suffer from jet lag to badly. The racing went pretty good. I had four solid races and ended up with a 19th place overall ranking. I skated a 35.99 and 36.22 in my 500m and a 1.12.48 and 1.12.47 in my 1000m. I was hoping to improve on my ranking from last year (18th) but I'm still satisfied with my results.

Jeremy and Mike finished 2nd and 3rd. It was great to see the Canadian guys do well. Jeremy was world champion last year, so I know he wasn't totally happy about his result, but I think he was still satisfied to finish in the top 3. Mike on the other hand is back in action after his groin injury last year. I think he was pleased with his results. On the women's side Shannon finished in the top 16 and Kerry Simpson finished in the top 20.

Japan was a great experience and it's always fun to travel around the world. The event was well run and the volunteers and staff were extremely polite. Overall I think everyone had a good time.

(2)- After Nagano, we traveled to Harbin, China, for the third stop on the Essent ISU world cup circuit. It was about 20 hours of travel time from Nagano to Harbin. We had a 6 hour bus trip to Tokyo, 3 hour flight to Shanghai, 2 hours and 30 min to Harbin then a 60 min bus ride to our hotel. Including stopover time and waiting in airports is was quite a long day.

China is a whole lot different then Japan. Being so close to each other you wouldn't think it's that much different, but it is. The main things are the pollution and the driving. Everyday there is a haze in the air and a clear day is not an option. The driving is also a little crazy, people are all over the place and honking the horn is a very common thing. People also cross the street where ever they please and just weave in and out of traffic. It was pretty fun to watch.

Anyways, I'd like to say the racing went better in China, unfortunately it didn't go so well. I raced pretty average and I had a couple of slips in some of my races. Mike on the other hand had a great weekend winning both 500m. His first win in over two years! Jeremy finished second in both 500m. Again, it's nice to see those guys do well. I ended up finishing 20th and 21st in the 500m and the 1000m wasn't any better. Oh well, I guess it was on off weekend. We have some time now at home and I'm looking to rest up and prepare for the next set up world cups in Europe.

(3)-I have a couple of days off now, so that is good. It will give me some time to readjust to the time difference. One thing about having a disappointing weekend is that I feel a renewed hunger to want to do better. I think sometimes you can get a little complacent about your racing. In reality the competition is so fierce that every race you have to muster up everything you've got if you want to improve your world ranking. I'll spend the next couple of weeks working on my technique and fine tuning for the next world cups.

I'll be leaving for Europe in the on the 6th of Feb. We will have three world cups. One in Italy, Germany and the final one in Holland. We'll be gone for about three weeks. I'm looking forward to it as I've never been to Italy before. I hear the track there is really great.

That's it for now, take care,

James Monson