Athletes from all around the world will compete at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games and each one has a story to tell. In Speed Skating many athletes have made a switch from roller skating to speed skating in the past. They even won Olympic titles like Chad Hedrick (USA), who took 5000m gold at the 2006 Torino Olympics. Five inline prodigies who recently switched to ice with an ISU Development Transition program, qualified for PyeongChang 2018.
Yu-ting Huang (TPE) will compete in the Ladies 1500m, 1000m and 500m while compatriot Wei-Lin Tai will compete in the Men’s 1500m. American Erin Jackson is entered for the Ladies 500m while Colombians Laura Gomez Quintero and Pedro Causil will compete in the Ladies Mass Start and Men’s 1000m and 500m respectively.
Roller Speed Skating (© GettyImages)
With the support of the ISU Development program, the Utah Olympic Oval and ISU Members, the ISU Transition Program was designed to help athletes from skating sports such as Inline Speed Skating, Hockey and Figure Skating to transition to Speed Skating. The aim is to help countries with rich talents pools in these skating sports to transfer that talent to Speed Skating in the best training environment available.
Yu Ting Haung (TPE)
A talented inline skater holding the 1000m world record, she is also a World Champion and the 2019 Asia Game Champion. When asked why she switched to ice she said: “Because, in inline I was a top skater and basically, I got every important title, so I want to challenge on the Olympic level because inline is not an Olympic sport yet.”
Wei Lin Tai (TPE)
Three times bronze medallist at the 2015 Inline World Cup in the Junior section, Wei also has Olympic aspirations and decided to switch to the ice, “I just wanted to try to get a spot to go to the Olympics,” he said. The ISU Transition program has provided him with all the facilities he needed in order to reach that dream.
Erin Jackson (© Getty Images)
Erin Jackson (USA)
Jackson has been an inline speed skater since 2002, winning 11 world medals. Erin took her first steps on the ice in September 2016 and started her full-time training with the ISU Transition Program back in September 2017. By the end of 2017 she made the Team USA Speed Skating Olympic Team. “A few of my long-term goals were to become an Olympian, earn an Olympic medal, and eventually become an Olympic Champion,” says Jackson. “Considering many inliners have made the transition before me, switching over had been on my radar for about a decade.”
Laura Gomez (COL)
Winning gold and silver at the 2016 Pan American Games in Buga, Colombia, is her highest achievement in inline skating to date. In 2017, she finished second at an international roller event in France. She switched to the ice initially because she wanted to do something different “I switched to ice because I wanted to learn to skate on ice, that would be just for fun, nothing serious.”
Laura Gomez & Pedro Causil along with a member of the US speed skating team (© AFP)
Pedro Causil (COL)
The multiple world inline Speed Skating Champion’s dream was to go to the Olympics and to live the Olympic experience. The Colombian won two gold medals at the Pan American Games in 2011 in the 300m time trial and the 1000m. At the 2015 Pan American Games, he also won the 500m title.
Ryan Shimabukuro is the head coach of the ISU Transition program in Utah. “Out of the 18 skaters from four countries who participated in the Transition Program this season, five skaters are going to the Winter Olympics for the first time. I believe the reasons why we were able to achieve this in a short period of time is because the strength of the program was based on a philosophy of “joint-training and cooperation”. The combined partnership of the ISU, Utah Olympic Oval, U.S. Speed Skating & The Colombian Skating Federation, in addition to the individual support from the Argentine & Chinese Taipei Federations of their athletes, really allowed the skaters to benefit from stronger training groups in a centralized format. The coaching staff from all the teams & programs at the Utah Olympic Oval worked extremely well together. As a result, this cooperation pushed each skater to excel, because we have the development pipeline in place for skaters to achieve competitiveness at an international.”
Team Canada confirmed their role as favorites as the figure skating competition at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games opened with the Men’s and Pairs Short Programs of the team event. Canada has 17 points, three points ahead of team USA. Team Japan is third on 13 points.
Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford (CAN) ©AFP
Two-time World Pairs Champions Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford put out a clean skate to “With Or Without You” that featured a side by side triple Lutz and a throw triple Lutz to place second in the Pairs Short Program. They scored 76.57 points and earned nine points for their team.
Olympic silver medallist Patrick Chan finished third in the Men’s Short Program after falling on the quadruple toeloop and triple Axel in his routine set to “Dust in the Wind” (81.66 points).
“Today was a good example of good skates and bad skates,” said Chan. “In my case I was so thankful I had the support of my teammates on and off the ice. Eric (Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford) had a great skate and I had a so so skate. But the reactions when we got off the ice and got into the kiss n’ cry it made my experience from possibly being poor to being exciting, fun and lighthearted and transferred the energy over to the team.”
Nathan Chen (USA) ©Getty Images
For team USA, ISU Grand Prix Final Champion Nathan Chen and pair skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Chris Knierim placed fourth in their segments, taking seven points each for the team. Scimeca/Knierim were solid in their program to “Come What May” with a side by side triple Salchow and throw triple flip. However, she stumbled on the exit from their lift (69.75 points). Chen opened his program to “Nemesis” with a quad flip-double toe combination but then popped the planned quad toe into a double and crashed on the triple Axel (80.61 points).
“I think team USA is in a good position,” said team captain Scimeca. “Nathan had a bit of an unfortunate skate. We watched it on the bus ride here and we were asked if we felt more pressure because of it, but this is our first Games and Nathan’s as well. We are experiencing everything as it comes. We are all very supportive of one another and I think the rest of the event is going to go very well for Team USA,” she added.
Team Japan ©Getty Images
Shoma Uno kept his team in the game by taking the men’s short program although he stumbled on his quadruple flip (103.25 points). “I watched most of the performances of the other skaters and I knew that there were mistakes. I thought I might do a mistake as well and I did, but I was able to overcome it. So I am satisfied with that,” the 2017 World silver medallist commented. Pair skaters Miu Suzaki/Ryuichi Kihara came eighth.
“We are actually really proud of the performances of Shoma (Uno) and also Miu (Suzaki) and Ryuichi (Kihara) today. It really gave us a lot of motivation for us to do the short program the day after tomorrow. Team Japan is really in high spirits,” team captain Chris Reed told the post-event press conference.
The Olympic Athletes from Russia and defending Olympic team champions are surprisingly sitting only in fourth place. While two-time European Pairs Champions Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov fulfilled the expectations and won the short program with an excellent performance, Mikhail Kolyada faltered and missed all three jumping passes. He finished in eighth place. The Olympic Athletes from Russia have 13 points like Japan, but the higher total score of the two performances broke the tie in favor of Japan.
“It was important to do a strong short program, a season’s best. We hope our performance will motivate the rest of the team,” Morozov said.
Israel ranked fifth on 11 points, which was another surprise. 2016 European silver medallist Alexei Bychenko scored nine points by placing second in the short program.
The figure skating team competition continues Sunday with the Short Dance, Ladies Short Program and the Pairs Free skating.
Durban siblings Chelsea, 15, and Tamarah Jacobs, 25, are off to South Korea this week to represent South Africa as torch-bearers in the 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on February 9. Both figure skaters were invited by the Organising Committee to attend as delegates. They are the only South Africans invited to carry the prestigious Olympic torch.
The figure skaters, Tamarah Jacobs, 25, and Chelsea, 15, of Essenwood, were personally invited by the organising committee to attend as delegates. They were also the only South Africans invited to bear the prestigious Olympic torch.
The sisters, and more so, Tamarah, shares a special bond with the South Koreans. She was among the first group of South African figure skaters to participate in the “Dream Programme” back in 2005. She is now a full time figure skating coach in Durban.
The programme was part of South Korea’s pledge to the International Olympic Committee to promote interest and participation in winter sports across the Globe. The focus was on youngsters keen to compete in sports like figure skating from countries like South Africa as well as other African countries which are not traditionally strong in winter sports.
“My relationship with the Koreans was further developed when I got to meet my sporting hero, Yuna Kim, who is South Korea’s two time Olympic figure-skating champion. Yuna came to Durban in 2011 for the announcement of the winning Olympic bid, which took place at the ICC,” said Tamarah Jacobs.
She said she was “extremely excited” about her trip to South Korea next week as it has been her dream to take her sister, Chelsea, to the Winter Olympics.
“I have been a passionate figure skater and started skating at the age of 7. Now, I spend my time coaching others and promoting the sport. I now coach Chelsea and hope she will one day compete at an international level as I have done in the past,” said Jacobs.
She said a Korean film company recently came to Durban to film Chelsea and herself in action.
They shot a TV documentary based on the lives of the siblings and their passion for figure skating. The documentary brings to light the training and dedication of what it is like partake in a winter sport in a summer country.
It will be released online during the Winter Olympics.
The sisters hope that their exposure to the international community will help promote figure skating as a sport here in South Africa.
Durban siblings Chelsea, 15, and Tamarah Jacobs, 25, are off to South Korea this week to represent South Africa as torch-bearers in the 23rd Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on February 9. Both figure skaters were invited by the organising committee to attend as delegates. They are the only South Africans invited to carry the prestigious Olympic torch.
Published on www.iol.co.za by email@example.com