26 October 2013 – Salt Lake City, USA
Some things stay the same.
Two-time Olympic Champion Shani Davis bested the fastest skaters in the U.S. at his specialty distances for the fourth straight year, making a strong statement to open the Olympic season.
Racing in the U.S. Championships at the Utah Olympic Oval, Shani skated 1000m in 1:08.29 to win his sixth straight U.S. title at the distance dating back to 2008. It was also the fastest time skated in the world so far this season.
“Not bad for the first one of the year,” said Davis from his Salt Lake home. And not bad for an athlete who never quite found his sprinting legs last season due to an early-season groin injury.
At 1500m Shani also skated the young season’s fastest time to win, crossing in 1:44.12 ahead of Joey Mantia (1:44.21) and Brian Hansen (1:44.41), who also stood on the podium at 1000m. The victory was Shani’s fourth straight at 1500m dating back to the 2010-11 championships.
The twin victories at U.S. Championships, which double as the Fall World Cup trials, garnered Shani a spot on the U.S. Team for the Fall World Cup 1000m and 1500m races, a key component of his Olympic preparation. As he told the media after his race: “My mindset was to just simply qualify [for the World Cup] and get through trials the best I can[.]”
The 2013-14 World Cup circuit kicks off next month in Calgary, Canada (Nov. 8-10) before returning to Salt Lake City (Nov. 15-17), where the world’s fastest skaters will be looking to put up record times in advance of the Olympic Winter Games in February, which start in just over 100 days.
Shani established the current World Records at both 1000m (1:06.46) and 1500m (1:41.04) on the same Utah Olympic Oval track back in 2009 en route to his historic performance in Vancouver.
Earlier in the competition Shani also turned in an impressive 500m time (35.62), although he narrowly missed qualifying for the distance at the Fall World Cup events. “Qualifying for 500m was not my goal, but I was pleased with my race. I had some of the speed back that I missed last year due to injury so I’m encouraged by the result.”
Full video replays of U.S. Championships races can be viewed at the Ice Network: http://web.icenetwork.com.