Lake Placid Ice Marathon, Dec. '09

by Neal Hundt, MSI Director

21 Dec 2009, Lake Placid, New York- The thrill of marathon speed skating continued this past weekend with the Lake Placid Ice Marathon, held just two weeks following the beginning of the season opener in Quebec City.

Ice availability at the Sheffield Olympic Oval was a concern as late as three nights before the first race. Yet by Wednesday night the Zamboni and ORDA crew were busy putting on the finishing touches to the ice. Although the thermometer was near zero degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday morning, low temperatures apparently had no effect on the high performance of skaters in the 10-km and 25-km events. Temperatures warmed to a comfortable 15 degrees on Sunday for the the 104-lap, 40K race. Clear, sunny skies were present throughout the weekend, allowing for magnificent views of New York's highest mountain peaks, Mt. Marcy and Algonquin Mountain.

Elite skaters were highly competitive in all three events. Sergio Almeralla, Jim Cornell, and Glenn Corso battled it out for the top three spots in the 25- and 40K. Right behind them in both races was Benoit Létourneau. Among women skaters, Carole Moore continues to dominate the sport by taking the #1 spot in both long-distance races. Catherine Kwiecien also delivered outstanding performances, placing third in the 25- and fourth in the 40K. Special mention goes to Bailin Xie of the women's junior division; she took third place in the 40K, a remarkable feat considering the competition provided by ten other women who also turned in respectable times. A compilation of the weekend's results can be downloaded here, or, please visit mylaps.com.

Thanks again to all the volunteers who made this event happen. We acknowledge some of them in the photo essay, below. To those volunteers whose names or photos do not appear, please accept our apologies; the omission is not intentional. The efforts of the starter and the block referees are greatly appreciated.

MSI marathons now take a holiday break. Action returns next month with the Bytown Marathon in Ottawa, followed by the return of natural ice marathon racing at Lake Morey, Vermont. See you then!

LP Marathon Race Director, Linda SRace Director Linda Sausa, pictured here at Sunday's awards ceremony. The large trophy is the MSI Series Cup, the Pierre Gagné Trophy. It is surrounded by trophies awarded for the overall winners, skaters that were winners in multiple events.

Lake Placid 10K elite The elite pack in the 10-K race on Saturday morning, 19 Dec (right, from right to left: Sergio Almeralla, Glen Corso, Vince Morris, Benoit Létourneau, and 15-year-old Christopher Windman, who finished fourth). Sergio won the 10-K then went on to win the 25K race as well. Congratulations to all 19 skaters who entered and finished this race.

Remember when marathon skaters had to bring a spouse or a friend to count laps, recording your times on a sheet of paper? Thanks to the hard work of Gaétan Rochette of MSI Timing (below, left, in the officials' booth overlooking the Lake Placid Olympic Oval), and the assistance of Maurice Gagné (below, middle), skaters have the benefit of electronic lap counting and timing. Counting laps for the 25K is Lisa Windman (below, right). Lisa was an on-ice official throughout the weekend.
MSI Master Timekeeper GR MSI Timing assistant MG

We need photos of the 25K and 40K races. Should you have photos of the weekend's events that you would like to add to this Lake Placid Ice Marathon photo journal, please send email to marathonskating at gmail dot com. Include a description with your photos.

LP oval- starting lineSkaters gather for the start of the 25K on Saturday, 20 Dec, 2009. This view looks south towards the Lake Placid High school. Contrast this with the photo below.

The start of a 10-km heat in the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, pack style. The starting line is identical to the one used in the Lake Placid Ice Marathon of 2009. Note the 1932 ice arena on the hill in the upper left, which still stands today. (Photo reprinted from "The Handbook of Competitive Speedskating,"ISU, 1999. Photo collection of Hedman Bijlsma).