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Oval firms up in time for Irving Jaffee Championships

January 31, 2018
By CHRISTIE SAUSA - Correspondent , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Early in the week, the Olympic Oval did not looking promising. After two days of rain and warmer temperatures, the surface was riddled with holes, rough patches and "shell ice" - ice that cracks easily under pressure due to an unstable foundation.

However, by Friday, Jan. 26, through great efforts by the Oval crew, the ice was much improved in time for the Irving Jaffee Single Distance Championships Saturday, Jan. 27 and Sunday, Jan. 28.

As was the case during the previous weekend's Jack Shea Sprint Championships, the temperatures were warmer than average both days, with temperatures peaking at over 40 degrees on Saturday and temperatures in the 30s on Sunday. Despite this, the ice held well and was continuously tended to top ensure relatively fast times and surprisingly smooth, fast ice conditions.

Article Photos

Officials, coaches and competitors pose for a photo after the second day of the Irving Jaffee Single Distance Championships Sunday, Jan. 28 at the Olympic speedskating oval in Lake Placid.
(Photo — Christie Sausa)

The event is named after 1932 Olympic gold medalist Irving Jaffee, who along with teammate Jack Shea captured two gold medals for the US. Jaffee took gold in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races.

In 1934, Jaffee notched another impressive athletic achievement by skating 25 miles in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 1 second, which bested the 30-year-old record by five minutes. He is considered one of the "Legends of the Oval," a group of speed skaters commemorated on the board of the same name at the Olympic Oval who contributed greatly to speed skating culture in Lake Placid and internationally.

This year's Single Distance Championship attracted more than 30 skaters from the United States and Canada, with 20 skaters coming from the Ontario province of Canada. After losing their natural-ice oval in Brewer Park, Ottawa, due to warm temperatures, multiple skaters from Ottawa needed to earn times for the Canadian Long Track Championships that takes place Feb. 4-5 in Edmonton, Alberta. Elite Canadian skaters depend on the Lake Placid Oval as a training and competition base to prepare for qualifying events. The remaining US participants represented clubs along the East Coast.

Saturday's races included the 500-, 1,500- and 5,000-meter distances, along with a special 300-meter mass start distance for Canadian racers to earn their required times in the event.

Canadian skaters swept most events, and in some cases the same skaters earned medals in multiple distances. Medals were awarded for the overall male and female winners in each distance.

In the 500-meter race, which includes one lap and a quarter of the track, Gabriel Martin of the Gloucester Concordes won with a time of 43.67. Jeremy Batt, also a member of the Gloucester Concordes club, earned silver with a time of 44.15, only .28 faster than bronze medalist Owen McKinley-Young of the Ottawa Pacers.

Of the ladies racing in the 500-meter race, Aaralyn McGill of the Cambridge Speed Skating Club was the fastest, with a time of 47.20. She was followed by Saratoga Winter Club's Lacey Greenamyre, who skated a 48.34 to earn a silver medal, and Claire Mallard of the Ottawa Pacers, who placed third with a time of 48.67.

The 1,500-meter race was also exciting to watch, requiring skaters to power around the 400-meter oval three and a half times while maintaining a consistent speed and pace to achieve their time goals.

For the men, the 1,500-meter title was claimed by Owen McKinley Young, skating a 2:26.76 time; the silver was won by Saratoga Winter Club's Arron Kopp, with a time of 2:29, while Gabriel Martin skated a 2:29.29 to earn bronze. The ladies 1,500-meter race was won by Claire Mallard (2:32.66). Aarlyn McGill earned second place with a 2:36.65 time, while Lacey Greenamyre captured the bronze medal with a time of 2:43.32.

One of Jaffee's best distances - the 5,000-meter race - requires the skater to maintain 12 and a half laps. All of Saturday's distances were challenging due to the increasingly windy conditions, but the 5,000-meter, already a difficult race, was no doubt even more a challenge for racers.

Emil Hodzic-Santor of the Gloucester Concordes achieved a time of 8:56.71 to win the 5,000-meter men's title. The podium was rounded out by Tomas Graham of the Gloucester Concordes and McKinley-Young, who placed second and third with times of 9:01.17 and 9:17.21, respectively. Mallard won the ladies' 5,000 with a time of 9:12.26. McGill placed second, skating a 9:22.70. Irina Skobreva earned a time of 10:20.25 to place third.

The second day of racing brought partly sunny conditions and cooler temperatures, but even better ice quality and three more distances: the 1,000, 3,000 and 10,000.

The 1,000 meter men's race was won by McKinley-Young (1:29.18), followed by Gabriel Martin (1:30.00) and Kopp (1:30.08). McGill skated her 1,000-meter race in 1:40.78, earning her the gold medal; Mallard placed second, and Carole Moore of Flushing Meadows Speed Skating Club earned the bronze with a time of 1:52.73.

The winners of the men's and ladies 3,000 meter races were Hodzic-Santor and McGill, with times of 5:06.80 and 5:24.41, respectively. Placing second and third in the men's races were Kopp (5:09.75) and McKinley-Young (5:10.84); in the ladies races, Mallard earned second (5:44.29) and Brielle Durham of the Gloucester Concordes (5:58.52) placed third.

"I think I really had a great meet this weekend, especially in the 5K and 3K; for my first 5K, I really had as a good a race as I could have, as I was able to settle into a steady pace that I could maintain for the whole race," Hodzic-Santor said. "The 3K was another great race for me, especially for the first seven laps where I consistently kept sub-40 second laps. Unfortunately, I did stumble in the last lap, which did affect my time, however my recovery was quick enough for me to still end with the fastest time."

The 10,000 had four competitors, and all skated in a "quad" to ensure the races ended on time. Tomas Graham won the race with a time of 18:40.28. Dave Phillips of Flushing Meadows Speed Skating Club placed second (19:23.29), while Greg Dabrowski of Milton, Ontario placed third (21.09.90). The fourth skater, Jim Gildalamadrid of Potomac Speedskating Club, skated all distances at this meet and travels annually from Baltimore to compete; he finished with a time of 22:29.56.

Overall, the race ended with several skaters earning new personal best times, and many will go on to compete at the Canadian Long Track Championships.

McGill, who won three distances and placed second in the remaining two, felt the event prepared her well for the Championships.

"It was great to have a chance to compete before the Canadian Long Track Championships next month," she said. "I skated some new personal bests, so I feel ready for nationals."

The next speed skating event in Lake Placid will be the Empire State Winter Games, which begin Friday, Feb. 2. For more information, visit their website at



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