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Fredricks to continue in 1,000 despite eighth-place finish

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Cathy Breitenbucher/Special to The Gazette
October 23, 2009
— Tucker Fredricks doesn't fancy himself a 1,000-meter skater.

Still, the Janesville native plans to skate that distance again Sunday after finishing eighth Thursday at the U.S. Speedskating's World Cup Qualifier.


Fredricks' time was 1 minute, 11.99 seconds, only good enough for eighth place as skaters chase World Cup spots. Reigning Olympic champion Shani Davis of Chicago led the way, skating a strong 1:08.85.


Because five World Cup spots at that distance are based on the fastest of the two 1,000s here, Fredricks could turn in a great time Sunday and bump someone off the team. In theory, that is.


"The guys are too good right now, and they keep getting better," said Fredricks. "My focus is on the 500."


Just hours after the Olympic flame was lighted in Greece, Fredricks, as could be expected, put up the night's fastest 200-meter split, 16.66 seconds. He was in decent shape a lap later, but couldn't maintain his speed over the final 400 meters..


"The opener was really good, then it's just that I never got into it," he said. "I never got into my rhythm on the backstretch.


"I'm not really worrying about the 1,000. I'm doing it for the training."


Fredricks had swept the two 500-meter races Wednesday.


He called the 1,000 one of the U.S. program's deeper events. Besides Davis, Thursday's top performers included World Single Distance champion Trevor Marsicano of Ballston Spa, N.Y., 2002 Olympian Nick Pearson of Vernon and 21-year-old rising star Brent Aussprung of Waunakee.


"Brent is a real talented skater," said Fredricks. "I'm kind of jealous that he's taking it seriously at a young age. He does a lot of things well, and he's definitely got a future."


After racing here concludes Sunday afternoon, the Americans will turn their focus to the World Cup series, starting Nov. 6 in Berlin, Germany. Joining Fredricks in the 500-meter World Cups will be Aussprung, Pearson, Davis and Matthew Plummer of St. Louis.


After the World Cup at the Utah Olympic Oval in mid-December, each country will know how many spots it has at each distance for the Games.


Aussprung correctly described the Olympic selection as "a two- or three-month process."


"There's a long road and anything can happen," he said.


Should they eventually be named to the Olympic team, Fredricks and Aussprung would keep alive a couple of notable streaks. The Madison Speed Skating Club, of which both are members, has had at least one Olympian each Games since 1972. And, there has been at least one Wisconsin skater going back to the 1956 Olympics.


Jennifer Rodriguez of Miami, bidding to qualify for a fourth Olympics, won the women's 1,000 in 1:19.91, just .02 ahead of Heather Richardson of High Point, N.C. Elli Ochowicz, who grew up in Waukesha, was third after winning both 500s Wednesday.


Late events Thursday were the women's 3,000 and men's 5,000.


There will be no events today. Competition continues with the 1,500s on Saturday. On Sunday, besides the 1,000 for both women and men, there will be racing at 5,000 for women and 10,000 for men. Start time is 1 p.m. both days.



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