For eight local Inline Speed Skaters, skating is more than just a sport. It is a way of life. On Monday, June 9th, while most of the Central Florida area kids were sleeping in and enjoying the first day of summer break, these kids were getting up early to meet up at the Orlando International airport. Their mission was to fly to Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado and attend a competition called “World Team Tryouts.” This competition is also known as Outdoor Nationals were not only do they compete for team selection, there are younger ones who are competing for national titles.
This event is held each year at the Olympic Training Center and is governed by the United States Olympic Committee. Each of these skaters had dreams of becoming members of Team USA. Some of these skaters have been known to train 6 and 7 days per week. They worked really hard over the past year and now it was time for them to see who would win spots on the team and move on to the World Championship to be held in Gijon, Spain in early September.
Team selection is a rather complex issue. There are many different races on two different surfaces. The first surface is called a bank track. There are only two of these tracks in the country and there is a need for more. One is in Colorado and the other is in Cooper City, Florida at Brian Piccolo Park. A bank track is a 200 meter oval track that is banked on the ends. The banking allows the skaters to maintain much higher speeds through the turns in access of 30mph. The other surface is a 400 meter road course which is generally set up in a big parking lot or on a school running track.
Skaters compete for points in each of the track and road races and in each race the top 8 skaters get points. Sprint races are just that, all out speed. Distance races get technical and more complicated. In these races skaters have different criteria in order to gain points for team selection. In the points race, skaters race to the line for points on every lap and at the end of the race the skater with the most points wins the race. In the elimination races, skaters race across the finish line at various points during the race and the last one to cross the line is eliminated. Points elimination races are held only on the track and consists of both points in one lap and elimination in the next lap. Every skater will tell you that is the hardest race of them all and it is one of the longest. Team selection is based on the most wins and placements to determine the countries following Champions in order to have the best USA skaters compete at the World Championships:
SPRINT CHAMPION: Skater with the most accumulated points in the 300m track race and the 200m road race combined.
OVERALL SPRINT CHAMPION: Skater with the most accumulated points in the 300m track race, the 500m track race, the 500m road race, and the 200m road race combined.
OVERALL DISTANCE CHAMPION: Skater with the most accumulated points in the 10,000m points- elimination track race, 15,000m elimination track race, 10,000m points road race, and the 20,000 elimination road race combined.
TRACK CHAMPION: Skater with the most accumulated points on the track after the above have been chosen.
ROAD CHAMPION: Skater with the most accumulated points on the road after the top three have been chosen.
OVERALL POINTS CHAMPION: Skater with the most accumulated points on the road and track combined after the above five have been selected.
Team USA consisted of two age brackets. Junior World Class are skaters who are age 13 to age 17 and Senior World Class are skaters age 18 and above. There are a total of 24 skaters chosen on the above criteria in the following manner:
Junior World Class Men – 6 (one each from the above)
Junior World Class Women – 6 (one each from the above)
Senior World Class Men – 6 (one each from the above)
Senior World Class Women – 6 (one each from the above)
Two alternates are chosen in each category based on overall points in the event of illness or injury to any of the team members. Skaters come from all over the country to compete for one of these spots. This year there were 27 junior women, over 30 in junior and senior men and around 15 senior ladies. There was even one young man who had dual citizenship from Colombia in attendance to try his hand at making the team.
Skaters are developed over the years by their home team coaches and training camps held at the Olympic Training Center and Brian Piccilo Park. Skaters that make the trip for World Team tryouts that do not have enough points to make the team but did get some points become members of the National team. This team will join World Team members in Colorado Springs twice per year for training at the Olympic Training Center. This is part of the United States’ ongoing effort to develop athletes that can compete at the World level and bring home medals for the country.
The skaters that attended the tryouts from Central Florida all skate out of Skate Reflections in Kissimmee and at Semoran Skateway in Casselberry. Briana Kramer and Falicia Kan both of Kissimmee attend Celebration High School. Sophie Webb of Kissimmee attends Osceola High School, Summer Lazzell attends Horizon Middle School, Josh Bode attends Timber Creek High School in Orange County, Adam Bode attends Discovery Middle School in Orange County, Chris Anderson attends Lyman High School in Seminole county, and Jonathon Bell just graduated this year from Dr. Phillips High School in Orange County. Performance Inline Racing Is the name of the home team that they all skate for. Their outdoor training is conducted mainly by Coach Shannon Shuskey. Shannon has been credited with developing 15 different world team members during his 6 years as an outdoor skating coach in High Point, North Carolina. He joined Performance Inline Racing in October 2007 and this move has proven to be both challenging and rewarding.
Briana Kramer of Kissimmee was the defending National Champion gaining more points than the other junior female competitors in 2007. This trip would show more of the same. Briana competed in all of the distances including sprints and received points in all races along with two National Records and a spot on Team USA for the fourth year in a row. Her placements were:
300m Time Trial Track – 8th Place
500m Sprint Track – 2nd Place
1000m Sprint Track – 3rd Place
10,000m Points Elimination Track – 1st Place
15.000m Elimination Track – 1st Place
200m Time Trial Road – 6th Place
500m Sprint Road – 3rd Place
10,000m Points Race Road – 1st Place NEW NATIONAL RECORD OF 17:28.144
20,000m Elimination Road – 1st Place NEW NATIONAL RECORD OF 37:10.910
Teammate Sophie Webb will be making her Team USA debut this year. A British native Sophie had to wait for her citizenship to become effective before she was eligible to try out for the team. This would be that year. Sophie will join Briana in the distances races that will be challenged in Gijon, Spain. She too skated all of the distances in Colorado and the placements that earned her a spot on the team are:
300m Time Trial Track – 7th Place
10,000m Points Elimination Track – 2nd Place
10,000m Points Race Road – 2nd Place
20,000m Elimination Race Road – 2nd Place
Briana took the Overall Distance Champion title while Sophie won the Overall Points title. The two will fly to Colorado Springs, Colorado for residency at the Olympic Training Center on August 1st. They will spend three weeks being trained and prepped for the World Championships then they will leave for World Championships on August 26th. The team will arrive in Spain on August 27th, the date of Briana’s 17th birthday. When asked how she felt about that she replied “I have had my birthday in China and Korea but this one will probably be the coolest one so far. Being surrounded by my teammates which are like family to me in addition to all of us being in Spain, what more could I ask for?”
Being new to Team USA and all that it entails, Sophie could be seen at the team orientation meeting filling out her paperwork and trying on her warm-ups and she did not even seem nervous. She was appearing to be taking it all in and enjoying the moment. I asked her how she felt going into the trials for team selection and she stated that she didn’t really know what she was getting herself into but she knew she was strong and that she had a chance. Now that she had made the team she feels certain that she and Briana will train together as much as possible throughout the summer in order to be where they need to be by the time the championships come around.
Falicia Kan will be a Sophomore this year at Celebration High School. In addition to that she will be a member of the National Team. In addition to her studies, “Fe” as she is called, works hard at skating and it paid off in a couple of great races which saw her earn enough points to make the team that will attend two clinics at the Olympic Training Center. Going for points in the points races, Falicia seemed right at home on the track and road course. She would end up with 11th place overall for World Team selection.
Josh Bode and Chris Anderson who are both members of Performance Inline Racing also grabbed positions on the National Team. Josh saw his spot with his 6th place finish in the 200m Road time trial while Chris achieved his spot with points that he earned in the points races on both the track and road. It is important to note that although they were not in medal contention Josh, Chris and Falicia will be trained at the National Team level in hopes of future placements at World Team Tryouts. All three of these outstanding athletes made their mark at the Olympic Training Center and it is certain that great things are in their future.
Summer Lazzell who skated her way to a silver medal in the 2000m points race in the freshman division is not quite old enough yet to try out for the team, but she along with senior racer Jonathan Bell and junior racer Adam Bode showed that they too will become forces t be reconed with. Adam has two more years at the junior level and Summer will enter the try outs next year.
In addition to training for the World Championships Briana and Sophie are charged with the task of raising the $4925.00 for each one of them. Training for these championships is hard enough without each one having to worry about coming up with nearly $5000.00 each. There are fundraisers being set up to assist with this cost with the biggest one being held at Skate Reflections in Kissimmee on July 27th from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. The team is putting on a jam skating competition along with a fun night of shuffle skating, games, food and prizes. Below is the complete information on the event.
Jam Shuffle Speed Skating Spectatular
Sunday, July 27th, 2008, 7pm-11pm
111 Dyer Blvd
That's Right!! Have your cake and eat it too.
Jam skaters are invited to enter an Amateur Jam contest on the smaller floor at Skate Reflections of Kissimmee, while Shuffle Skaters are invited to enjoy a scheduled 10 minutes every hour for pure shuffle skating on the larger floor. The other 200 minutes on the beautiful large floor, are packed full of great music, friends, food and open skating.
Raffles, Games, Races, Great Food and Spectacular Fun!!
All proceeds will assist
Performance Inline Racing's USA World Team members!
$7.00 admission includes a raffle ticket for door prizes.
$10.00 Jam, Teams of 1-4 skaters, Pre- Registration for a 2 minute practice, and a 2 minute scheduled Jam with music. Team names will be entered in the events program, along with the night's schedule. Awards will be presented for
Tricks, Spins, Single and Team Performances.
Deadline for pre-entry ½ price registration July 9th.
Jam Registration at the door is $20.00
Donations are also being accepted and are tax deductable by either writing a check to USA Roller Sports (memo either Briana, Sophie, or Briana and Sophie) and mailed to USA Roller Sports Attn. Peggy Young, 4730 South Street - P.O. Box 6579, Lincoln, NE 68506. You can also make a telephone donation by calling Peggy Young at (402) 483-7551 and specifying who you are making the donation to.