American Cup short track speedskating at Super Rink this weekend

US Speedskating American Cup Short Track Speedskating event this weekend offers preview of one of the most exciting Winter Olympic sports

Short track speedskating is one of those events that we only seem to pay attention to once every four years during the Winter Olympic Games. Who doesn’t remember Apolo Ono’s dramatic races? This sport is definitely fun to watch, so why not get ready for the Sochi Winter Olympics coming up in just two weeks by watching some short track action in person this weekend at the Schwan Super Rink?

Short track speed skating races are contested on a 111-meter oval track set up on a hockey rink. Unlike long-track speedskating, which is the older version of the sport, short track races are all mass start, with four to six skaters taking the starting line. Strategy and tactics are primary. Many races are won by the smartest rather than the fastest skater. Tight passes, collisions and spills are part of the short-track game.

Thirty national-caliber short track speedskaters from around the U.S. will converge on the Schwan Super Rink on the campus of the National Sports Center in Blaine for the US Speedskating American Cup 2 Short Track Speedskating Championship. The event will be held Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26 on rink 1.

Many of the top American skaters who competed at the recent Olympic Trials in Salt Lake City, but did not make the U.S. team for Sochi, are expected to compete.

Some of the  top athletes competing will be:

John-Henry Krueger, Pittsburgh, Penn. Currently living and training in Salt Lake City. 2010- 2013 U.S. Junior World Championship team. 2011- 2013 U.S. World Cup team. Three-time World Cup medalist (1 silver, 2 bronze)

Cole Krueger, Pittsburgh, Penn. Currently living and training in Salt Lake City. 2010- 2011 U.S. Junior World Championship team. 2013 U.S. National Champion. Currently in 2nd place in 2013-14 American Cup points.

Keith Carroll Jr., Salt Lake City. Overall Short Track 2012-13 American Cup Series Champion and currently leading the 2013-14 American Cup points.

Kimberly Goetz, Flemington, N.J. Currently in 2nd place in American Cup points.

The weekend’s program will also include an event for regional skaters on Saturday, January 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Called the Gopher Open, the event will include divisions for youth skaters as young as 6 and under, up through masters skaters over the age of 30.

Here is the event schedule for the American Cup:

Friday, January 24.
Practice session from 7:30-9 p.m.

Saturday, January 25 — warm up at 2 p.m.; racing begins at 2:40 p.m.
Order of events:
Women’s 1500 meter semifinals
Men’s 1500 meter semifinals
Women’s 500 meter quarterfinals
Men’s 500 meter quarterfinals
Women’s 500 meter semifinals
Men’s 500 meter semifinals
Women’s 1500 meter FINAL
Men’s 1500 meter FINAL
Women’s 500 meter FINAL
Men’s 500 meter FINAL
Racing will conclude about 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, January 26, warm up at 8 a.m.; racing begins at 8:40 a.m.
Order of events:
Women’s 1000 meter quarterfinals
Men’s 1000 meter quarterfinals
Women’s 1000 meter semifinals
Men’s 1000 meter semifinals
Women’s 1000 meter FINAL
Men’s 1000 meter FINAL
Women’s 3000 meter SUPER FINAL
Men’s 3000 meter SUPER FINAL
Racing will conclude about 11:35 a.m.

The American Cup 2 and Gopher Open local organizing committee is being headed up by volunteers from the Greater Minnesota Speedskating Association.

The first ISU-sanctioned short track World Championship was held in France in 1981. The sport made its Olympic debut as a demonstration event at the 1988 Calgary Games; full medal status came in 1992 at the Albertville Games. It is traditionally one of the most prized Olympic tickets, with spectators flocking to the freewheeling and fast short-track atmosphere.

Minnesota has a strong stake in the growth of international short track racing. Maplewood’s Amy Peterson is a three-time Olympic medalist, in the 1992 Albertville and 1994 Lillehammer Games. Peterson also holds nine U.S. short track national championships.

The Schwan Super Rink previously hosted the U.S. Short Track National Championships in 2001.

Spectator admission to the American Cup and Gopher Open is free.

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