Since European championships is not *quite* as big a deal as world championships, we don’t get a full rest day. Instead, we got half a day… actually, it was more like two thirds of a day off. If you happened to be a long-distance athlete, then you effectively did get the day off. The road competition commenced with the 200m time trials which, as it happens, are exactly two thirds the length of the 300m time trials which we have on track. This is also the only distance that was contested today.
The road course is considerably larger than the track. The course is 480m in length (the track is 200m) and is asymmetrical in nature, in accordance with regulation. As you can see in the plan below, there are even a number of right-hand corners (speed skaters are ordinarily only adept at turning left). There are also very slight elevation changes over the course of the course. Observant readers will also notice that there is a substantial body of water in the middle of the track. Landscaping-wise, it’s quite pleasant, but as a practical matter, the ecosystem does ensure that you get bitten by a lot of bugs if you hang around in one spot for too long (taking photos, for example).
The road time trials brought no unusual surprises, with most of the placings being almost identical to those of the 300m time trial on indoor. Because of the size and nature of the road course, speeds tend to be higher, and the spectators only get a good view of a relatively small portion of the track (the bit near the arena). Luckily for you, photographers are allowed to wander pretty much anywhere they want, and so I will be taking pictures of things that most people don’t even get to see.
Noteworthy from the time trials – Daria Tiberto of Italy beat Vanessa Bittner of Austria in the Junior A ladies division by a mere one thousandth of a second. That’s the amount of time it takes for sound to travel from your computer screen (if you happen to have a loud computer screen) to your eyes. Simon Albrecht easily won the Junior A mens division, but the winner of the senior mens division, Ioseba Fernandez of Spain (and current world record holder in the distance) managed to set a time which was faster the Simon’s… although he was the only person on the day to go faster. Just to put things in perspective, it’s not unusual for the winner of the junior division to post a time which is within the top five in the senior division. It IS however unusual for a junior to post a time which is faster than all of the seniors.
Results and photos are linked below, and if you look carefully at the list of final results you will notice that there are some occasional anomalies – Ricardo Esteves of Portugal for example in the Senior mens division posted a time of 19.8 seconds in the final, which was unusual since his qualifying time was 17.2 and he didn’t appear to be going significantly slower. The culprit here (and actually, in a small number of other cases too, but this was the most obvious) was the electronic ‘beam’ which starts the clock being tripped by something (usually a skater’s hands while the skater is prepping) before the skater actually ‘starts’ their time trial properly. Sometimes this happens mere fractions of a second before the skater starts, and occasionally a whole two seconds in the case of Esteves. Technically speaking, I think that’s a false start because the first forward movement has to break the beam, but it is possible that the rule has changed since I last competed, or alternatively it’s just to difficult for the judges to spot.
Full and detailed results from the road competition can be found here.
Don’t forget to check out the photo page.