Park City speedskaters reach national, international level
The Park City Speed Skating Club is having a banner season.
Recently, three of its athletes qualified for the 10-person U.S. long track junior world team, and a handful of its youth athletes qualified for the age group junior nationals.
Casey Dawson and Lindsey Woodbury will compete on the junior world team for the second time, while it will be Will Valentine’s first.
The three of them qualified with their performances at the U.S. Junior Championships in Lake Placid on Jan. 18-19.
Woodbury took second overall in the junior girls division. Her teammate, Abigail Sorenson narrowly missed out on selection for the junior World team, finishing eighth overall.
In the junior boys division, Dawson took third overall, followed by Valentine in fifth.
The three will compete in the ISU Junior World Cup Final in Besalga, Italy on Feb. 9-10.
Travis Cella, a spokesman for the club, said the local team has been “batting above its average,” and he expects that trend to continue.
“I think they are all Olympic team hopefuls for 2022,” he said of Woodbury, Dawson and Valentine, adding that Sorenson is also moving toward that top group.
Several other youth and junior athletes are poised to do well this season, including Cella’s son, Alex Cella, plus Lily McKay, and Lindsey’s younger brother, Dylan Woodbury.
They have all qualified for Age Group Nationals, in March.
Cella said a promising Heber resident named Grace Erker has recently joined the team, and will likely start competing soon.
“She’s a natural,” Cella said of the 14-year-old. “Nine times on the ice she has already improved 20-fold, and I think she’s already ready to race.”
He said spectators could see her at regionals or nationals by next season.
Cella attributed the team’s success to a combination of factors: A fun team atmosphere, a supportive community, the altitude both of the Park City Ice Arena and the Olympic Oval in Kearns (which sit at 6,500 and 4,675 feet above sea level, respectively), and the access to the facilities.
“There’s very few places in the world where you can say you have all these things in such a small geographic area,” he said.
He added that the team is currently looking for more skaters.
For information visit the Park City Speed Skating Club Facebook page.
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The International Ski Federation has approved a tentative World Cup schedule for women’s Nordic combined for the first time ever. The first World Cup season is scheduled for 2020. Men have been competing at the Olympic level since 1924.