It’s called NASCAR on ice.
U.S. Speedskating’s short-track age class national championships at Moylan Tranquility Iceplex near 125th Street and West Maple Road this weekend will be packed with strategy, speed and crashes.
“It’s a super exciting, very fast-paced sport,’’ said Tamara Castellano, the marketing communications director for U.S Speedskating. “It’s really fun to watch.’’
A total of 178 skaters, from as young as 15 to as old as 75, will be competing in age-group races from Friday to Sunday that range in length from 500 to 1,500 meters. Events start each day at 7 a.m.
It’s the final event in a season that started in September.
This isn’t a qualifying tournament for the United States’ world cup team, which just returned without a medal from the world championships in Hungary last weekend, but there still will be plenty of talent.
“It kind of attracts people from every age range involved in the sport,” Castellano said. “Anybody who is competitive in the sport in short track comes to this competition.”
The speedskating program is the most decorated winter sports federation in the U.S. with 85 Olympic medals. Castellano said this meet will give Olympic fans a chance to see what the sport looks like up close.
The next Winter Games are next February in Sochi, Russia.
“Our sport is definitely one of the most popular Olympic medal sports for sure,” Castellano said.
Competitors can race at speeds as high as 30 to 35 mph around the corners of an Olympic-sized hockey rink. But it’s also a very technical sport, ranging from the technology involved in the skin suits, the sharpness of the blades and the passing techniques.
The championships were held last year in Salt Lake City. Castellano said this is the first time the event is being held in a city without a speedskating club.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” she said. “We’re expecting the turnout to be really good.”
About 500 tickets will be available on the day of each session.
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