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S.L. earns spot on map in speed-skating world

SHARE S.L. earns spot on map in speed-skating world

Even with the collapse of the Oquirrh Park Oval's roof, which delayed the building's completion by three months, Salt Lake City's importance in the speed-skating world continues to grow.

Salt Lake's hosting of the 2002 Winter Games is important, yes, but the ice oval itself is of more immediate interest to skaters. The oval is scheduled for completion by the end of the year, and most people in speed-skating circles believe it will have the fastest ice in the world because of Utah's thin air, which offers less resistance to skaters.

A tenth of a second is a long time in speed-skating, and a few air molecules more or less can make all the difference. The oval's design also bodes well for ice adjustments intended to increase speed.

Recognizing the area's increased importance, the group that organizes and trains Olympic speed-skaters in the United States, has created a new coaching position to be based in Salt Lake City.

U.S. Speedskating announced this month that Tom Cushman of Roseville, Minn., will become Western regional coach, responsible for development of skaters in the region.

Most U.S. long-track speed-skaters have been training in the Salt Lake area over the summer by in-line skating, bicycling, lifting weights and running. Others are in Wisconsin for on-ice training at the Pettit Ice Center near Milwaukee.

The mantra of speed-skaters is "train low, live high." That is, train at lower elevations and live at higher ones. The skaters have been training in Salt Lake Valley and Park City and living in Deer Valley.

"This is a great place to work," Cushman said of Salt Lake City. "The skaters are really glad to be here because of the great facilities and Olympic atmosphere."

Cushman, 36, was speed-skating's junior national team co-coach and a 1988 Olympian.

Other coaching changes have also been announced. Canadian Stephen Gough has left the U.S. Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University to assist U.S. short-track speed-skating coach Susan Ellis in Colorado Springs, Colo. John Monroe will oversee development of both skaters and coaches as national development coordinator, and Scott Koons and Tony Goskowicz (brother of current short-track skater Julie Goskowicz), will jointly fill Gough's old position.


E-mail: alan@desnews.com