PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Every push of Joey Mantia’s skates hurt.
“I was freaking out a little bit, and trying to stay with it,” said the Sandy speedskater, who came agonizingly close to an Olympic podium for the second straight day. “I was a little tired in the heat, so I tried to play it safe in the final.”
Mantia officially finished ninth in the Mass Start, a new Olympic event for long track speedskaters that both coaches and athletes are still trying to figure out, but in reality he was much closer to a medal than the final standings indicate.
On Friday night, Mantia finished fourth in the 1000-meters, an unexpectedly good performance that he said would give him confidence going into Saturday’s Mass Start. Mantia won the event making its Olympic debut in Pyeongchang at World Championships last year.
“I think that’s the problem,” he said of how different the mass start race is from every other long track competition. “We just didn’t train enough on the race lane going fast enough at those speeds. It’s weird because it’s a new event so we didn’t really alter the program exactly. We kind of just rested on the laurels of winning the world championships. ‘Oh, we’ll be good enough.’ When it comes down to these guys racing, everybody is on the top of their game, and you’ve got to train specifically. And we just didn’t.”
Long track is distinct in that skaters take the ice in pairs and battle the clock. In mass start, however, up to 12 skaters race at the same time in a 16-lap contest that features four sprint laps worth points that help a skater’s standing. And yet, the first three across the line in the final are the medalist.
Mantia crossed the line fourth, but officially finished ninth because sprint
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News