Fredricks takes lead
The Janesville native produced some of his best racing ever at the Pettit National Ice Center and nearly cracked the 35-second barrier in the night’s final pair, skating 35.01. The skater paired with Fredricks, Brent Aussprung of Waunakee, was a distant second in 35.56.
Reigning World Sprint Champion Shani Davis of Chicago had taken the lead in the pair before Fredricks and Aussprung with a 35.76, but it didn’t hold up.
“I’m really pleased with the times—pretty surprised,” Fredricks said. “I didn’t think I’d go this fast yet. I must be in pretty good shape.’’
With the victories, Fredricks became the top US qualifier for the upcoming World Cup events. Performances in the World Cups will decide the number of skaters each country can enter in the Olympics.
For the sprint races, the maximum per country in the Games will be four.
By virtue of first-race win, in 35.20, Fredricks was placed in the final pair of the second race. That meant he knew exactly what time he needed to win.
The racing will continue at 6 p.m. today with the 1,000 for Fredricks and the other sprinters, plus the 3,000 for women and 5,000 for the men. A second 1,000 will be contested Sunday at 1 p.m.
“It’s definitely going to fall into place,” said Fredricks, “There will be ups and downs throughout the year, but I don’t feel too bad about that right now. I have confidence my coaches will have me ready in February when it counts.”
Fredricks skated a great race in beating Davis in the opening 500. The two were in the evening’s 19th and final pair, skating just after Aussprung and taken the lead with a 35.65.
Fredricks led wire-to-wire, with Davis turning in a 35.71, which was good enough for third place.
Among the women, Elli Ochowicz, who grew up in Waukesha, swept both 500s over defending national sprint champ Heather Richardson of High Point, N.C. Jennifer Rodriguez of Miami, 33, attempting to become a four-time Olympian, finished third in the 500 meter standings.