Two athletes represent Park City at the World Junior Speedskating Championships
When speedskater Lindsey Woodbury crossed the finish line in the 1,000-meter race at the U.S. team trials in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she didn’t expect to make the U.S. Junior World Team.
In October, she had fallen during a practice turn and slid into the pads, suffering a concussion that kept her from training at a time when she needed to badly. Her fitness level translated into a 3,000-meter race well below her best on the first day of the team trials three weeks ago, and put the Park City racer in a tough position going into the rest of the competition.
Her father, Robert, watched her last race of the team trials expecting as little as Lindsey did, while a U.S. Speedskating official on a nearby computer tallied the final numbers for the competition.
“Come over here,” the official said to Robert, and pointed to the screen. “She made it.”
Lindsey found out when she stepped off the ice.
“I cried,” she said. “I was crying tears of joy because I wasn’t supposed to make it, really. It wasn’t expected.”
At 14 years old, she is the youngest person on the team, which was set to compete in the ISU World Junior Speedstaking Championship from Friday, March 9, through Sunday.
Her teammate, Casey Dawson, also from Park City, made the team as well, and in doing so the duo became the first speedskaters to represent the city at the Junior World level.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Dawson, 17. “I mean, it definitely sets a new standard for our sport in Park City, and I believe it’s there to inspire others to continue with the sport and to strive for their goals.”
Robert, who is also the president of the Park City Speed Skating Club, said having two athletes from the club participate at that level was unprecedented.
“We call it ‘The Little Club that Could,’” he said. “Twenty percent of the Junior World Team is from Park City Speed Skating Club, which has never turned out a Junior World athlete before.”
While a handful of elite speedskaters call Park City home, Dawson and Roberts were the first trained at the Park City Ice Arena to reach the international level since its construction in 2006.
For almost two weeks, the U.S. Junior World Team has been at a hotel in Salt Lake City, preparing for the competition, held atthe Olympic Oval in Kearns.
“It’s fun,” Lindsey said. “It’s a lot of team bonding and making new friends with people. And just seeing the whole world there is pretty nice.”
Dawson said the Junior Worlds provide an opportunity for athletes to see how they measure up against international competition, something athletes at his age rarely get to experience.
It also provides an opportunity to bond with their U.S. teammates, who have traveled to Utah from their Midwestern home clubs for this weekend’s competition, as well as meet teams from around the world.
“We’ve been eating dinner every night and experiencing dinner with other countries — it’s definitely different,” Dawson said. “And the bus rides to and from the oval with other countries are exciting because we just pump music and jam out. Today we actually played YMCA and the people from the Netherlands joined in.”
Both Lindsey and Dawson are keeping their goals simple — to skate their best.
Lindsey will compete in the 500 meter, along with the 1,000; 3,000; and 1,500, plus the team pursuit and maybe the team sprints. Dawson will compete in every event but the mass start.
Events start at 9 a.m. each day, and admission is free.
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