Fredricks places second in first day
MILWAUKEE Mitch Whitmore bested two-time Olympians Tucker Fredricks and Shani Davis, but no one is ready to say there’s been a changing of the guard in American sprint speedskating.
Whitmore captured the 500 meters Friday as qualifying began for the early-season World Cups. His time of 35.12 seconds was .16 ahead of Fredricks and .48 up on Davis.
“I could beat them a hundred times and I’d still be looking up to them,” said Whitmore, a 22-year-old from Waukesha. “They’ve been good forever, and this isn’t even Shani’s best race.”
Whitmore and Fredricks skated head-to-head in the final pair, and Fredricks displayed a good start of 9.75 seconds for the opening 100 meters. Whitmore made up a deficit of more than a tenth of a second over the final lap.
“Last week (in time trials), I was nine-tenths slower, so I don’t know what I expected,” said Fredricks, from Janesville. “I’m kind of disappointed with the execution. I think I can skate the race a lot better.”
Fredricks, 28, and Davis, 30, boast long resumes of national titles, World Cup medals and, in Davis’ case, four Olympic medals. Last season, Fredricks took the bronze in the World Cup season-long 500 competition after a slow start due to a back injury.
“Last season, I started to feel old,” admitted Fredricks. “You can’t stay at the top forever. The young kids are going to grow up, get stronger and there’s nothing you can do about it except try your hardest.”
As he tries to stay in the mix for the 2014 Games, Fredricks is calling upon the guidance of one of the sport’s legends—Dan Jansen, whose best Olympic performance was a gold medal in his final race at the age of 29. Fredricks has spent a week at Jansen’s home in North Carolina each of the past two summers.
“We talk, golf and go out on the boat,” said Fredricks. “He schooled me in one-minute hill runs.”
Jansen’s advice: “If you think you’re the best and you have an average day, you still can win,” said Fredricks. “He tells me you don’t have to be perfect to win—‘your good is good enough.’”
Fredricks will continue to put that philosophy to the test when a second 500-meter race is contested here today. The combined 500-meter results will determine four men who will race World Cups starting Nov. 16 in Heerenveen, The Netherlands.
In the day’s other men’s race, Brian Hansen of Glenview, Ill., a 2010 silver medalist in team pursuit, captured the 5,000
meters in 6:27.80.
U.S. SINGLE DISTANCE
LONG TRACK SPEEDSKATING
At Pettit National Ice Center, West Allis
(Race distances in meters)
500—(First heat; second today)—1, Mitchell Whitmore, Waukesha, Wis., 35.12, 2, Tucker Fredricks, Janesville, Wis., 35.28. 3, Shani Davis, Chicago, 35.60. 4, James Cholewinski, York, S.C., 35.93. 5, Brian Hansen, Glenview, Ill., 36.33. Michael Blumel, Woodbury, Minn., 36.48.
5,000—1, Brian Hansen, Glenview, Ill., 6:27.80. 2, Emery Lehman, Oak Park, Ill., 6:28.56. 3, Jonathan Kuck, Champaign, Ill., 6:29.86. 4, Patrick Meek, St. Louis, 6:33.79. 5, Alexander Ochowicz, Palo Alto, Calif., 6:44.43. 6, Alexander Hopp, West Jordan, Utah, 6:44.68.
500—(First heat; second today)—1, Heather Richardson, High Point, N.C., 37.96. 2,Lauren Cholewinski, York, S.C., 38.47. 3, Brittany Bowe, Ocala, Fla., 38.59. 4, Sugar Todd, Milwaukee, 38.94. Elli Ochowicz, Waukesha, Wis., 39.45. 6, Kelly Gunther, Clinton Township, Mich., 39.75.
3,000—1, Richardson, 4:09.39. 2, Jilleanne Rookard, Woodhaven, Mich., 4:09.70. 3, Maria Lamb, River Falls, Wis., 4:13.12. 4, Bowe, 4:13.99. 5, Gunther, 4:16.27. 6, Petra Acker, Clifton Park, N.Y., 4:17.62.