World records fall at warmup meet

If last week’s performance at the Olympic Oval is any indication, Canada is right on track for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Canadian skaters set four World Records at the 2001 Calgary Olympic Developement Association Invitational Short Track Speed Skating Competition held at the Olympic Oval Oct. 12-14.

"World records are being broken by Canadians this weekend," said Jessica Steele, an athlete with the Oval Program. "The ice is really fast this week but I think all the hard work is just showing through."

The CODA meet was open to national teams from around the world as well as to developing athletes, allowing many young competitors to race on the same ice as their idols.

"It’s a good experience for [developing athletes] to race against high performance athletes," said Ayako Francis, an Oval Program coach.

As for the national teams, many of them see this event as a preview to the Short Track World Cup being hosted by the Oval Oct. 18-20.

"I think some teams are using this as a warm up race for next week, but others aren’t racing because they want to avoid fatigue," said Francis.

It will be exciting to see how long the new records stand with 29 countries competing at the World Cup.

Canadian developmental skater Steve Robillard set a record in the men’s 1,000m and 1,500m events, beating many National Team members and Olympic medallists to do so.

"The senior men are keeping an eye on him for the 2002 Olympic Games," said Martin Gagne, one of Robillard’s coaches.

Jeffrey Scholton, an athlete from New Brunswick, broke his own world record he set in March of 2000. He cut 0.228 seconds of his previous time in the men’s 500m event to set a new record of 41.514s.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the meet was the men’s relay. The Canadian Team of Marc Gagnon, Éric Bédard, Mathieu Turcotte and Jean Franciose "Flu" Monette shattered the former world record held by South Korea by almost 6 seconds skating 5km in 6:43.730.

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