Chilean Skaters Go Long Distance
After breaking the national records in their first race, a group of four young Chilean skaters have now gone on to longer distances.
TILBURG, THE NETHERLANDS — Once again the young Chilean skaters have exceeded expectations, with the three girls finishing second, third and fourth in their first long distance race.
In a project supported by ADO Chile, three Dutch expats have looked to some of Chile’s inline speed skaters to transfer their skills to the ice in order to become Olympic hopefuls. The Chilean skaters are spending the Dutch winter training to adapt to the ice.
Mark Minneboo, on of the three Dutch organizers of the project said to I Love Chile, “We want to have the skaters racing on the ice every week. We are getting them adjusted to a wide variety of distances, but we will eventually be focusing on the long distance races.”
In a short distance race, a fraction of a second is enough to ruin a race, while in the long distances skaters have more room for error. The skaters are hoping to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics before pushing for a medal in 2018.
National record holder Paula Ruiz said after the race that she was disappointed not to win. Minneboo told I Love Chile, “That’s the attitude you need, the skaters have only been on the ice for two weeks and they’re already looking to win.”
He added, “We have to see if they revert to the survival tactics from inline skating, or if they stick to the plan. All the skaters have really exceeded our expectations.”
Aside from the intensive training on the ice, the four skaters have also had an intensive English training experience, allowing them to compete with athletes from all over the world. The young skaters have already received advice from former Olympic champion Chris Witty, which would have been much more difficult without their training in English.
You can follow the progress on the road to Sochi 2014 at the Chile Speedskating Facebook page.