:Colo Spgs Gazette; :Jan 12, 2009; :Metro; :13


short-track speedskating

bumping elbows, going fast

City has spawned top competitors; others just looking for fun on the ice

by bill mckeown THE GAZETTE —

details

To learn more about the Broadmoor Speedskating Club, to view its practice schedule and to learn what gear is required to get started, visit www.bspeed.org

    Dave and Maria Hopp’s passion for the sport of short-track speedskating began with a most prosaic desire: They didn’t want to sit in a cold ice rink while son Alex learned the art of going fast in a tight oval.

    Three years after joining the Broadmoor Speedskating Club, Alex has moved on to compete at a national level, and his folks are still enjoying bumping elbows and countering the on-ice strategies of other competitors.

    Dave Hopp, 46, said the club goes back at least to 1968, but the number of members has dwindled over the years, making it difficult to hold competitions.

    The club now has 22 members, about 10 of whom are from Colorado Springs and the remainder from the Denver area. The youngest skater is 7 and the oldest is in his mid-50s; about 40 percent of the club members are female. The club holds practices year-round and competitions from September to March.

    Three club members, including his son, have gone on to compete at high levels of the sport.

    Colorado Springs has been home to more than a few top-level competitors, including Apolo Anton Ohno, who won

    —


    —

gold in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics and who inspired the “love patch” craze, that wacky little strip of hair below the lower lip.

    But you don’t have to be on the leading edge of hirsute fashion — or even be a good skater — to give the sport a try. The club, which holds practices at the World Arena Ice Hall and the Ice Ranch in Littleton, offers free instruction and the loan of special speedskates for anyone who wants to give the fast, exciting sport a shot. All it takes is a bike helmet, a few bucks for knee and elbow pads and a $10 rink fee. Skaters are normally paired with those of similar abilities.

    In short track speedskating, competitors make a mass start and race each other around pylons placed on the ice for a certain number of laps. The top two competitors in quarter and semifinal heats advance to the final event. Pads are placed around the rink where falls are likely to occur.

    Hopp, a lifelong skier, said the sport builds shapely quads and is good cross-training — but also ofiers something many other sports don’t.

    “Falls are frequent, and there’s head-tohead bumping,” he said. “There’s a lot of strategy to timing your passes, and you have to try to judge whether to go out slow or hard.

    “I find it very exciting because of the level of uncertainty. Anyone can win.”


“I find it very exciting because of the level of uncertainty. Anyone can win,” Dave Hopp said of short-track speedskating. He practiced Sunday at the World Arena Ice Hall.



pHoToS By BRyAN oLLER, THE GAZETTE Rob Huff got a hug from his son Brayden, 7, as they and the Broadmoor Speedskating Club practiced at the World Arena Ice Hall. The club offers free instruction and the loan of special speedskates for anyone who wants to give the sport a shot.