21 February 2013

Old Skool

Back in mid January I raced outdoors near St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota. Outdoor competitions can be pretty fun but not if the weather turns freezing cold or gets too windy, which of course it did. Over two days of racing, we had wind of over 30 mph (which actually blew over a skater during his race, sorry Andy) and temperatures at 0 degrees. Even though it really sucks to be out there racing with what seems like no clothes on, I like the challenge and it turned out that it was probably my best competition all year!




Thanks so much for coming out to watch Jake and Robin

 

Back in the day, all ovals were outdoors and many were on natural lake ice (this oval ^ has ice artificially cooled by compressors underneath so people can still skate even if it's 45ish degrees or less outside). But speedskaters had to deal with the elements of snow, wind and sun that often times differed from race to race so results were unfairly affected by their race condition. For example, if the sun happened to come out for your race, it would make the ice gloss over and become way faster and glide significantly better. So in 1988, the Olympics in Calgary, Canada, introduced a new enclosed oval to the world and so began a more modern era of the sport. Since then, more and more ovals have been covered and most major competitions are indoors but it's good to keep alive the tradition of this sport in even if it means freezing your face off.

Our good ol' hometown oval in Milwaukee before it was covered in 1994.


The Milwaukee oval today