An unusually wet weekend in Switzerland didn’t dampen the spirits of Whitehorse’s Jessica Frotten.
The rain may have impeded her speed at the Swiss Series, but the 28-year-old thinks the experience could be useful on a much bigger stage.
“The weather was terrible. I guess it was good practice – the Paralympics in Brazil will happen in the rainy season,” said Frotten. “So I guess it’s good practice to race in the rain, but I don’t like racing in the rain. I need to figure out a better strategy for the rainy weather. I just don’t have enough experience for it … You can put this sticky stuff all over your gloves, but I was still slipping.”
The para wheelchair racer had a busy four days last week. She raced at the Daniela Jutzeler Memorial Meet on Thursday and Friday, followed by the Swiss Nationals over the weekend – all part of an IPC Athletics Grand Prix – in Nottwil, Switzerland.
The heats took place at the Jutzeler meet under sunny skies and the finals at the Swiss Nationals in the wet stuff.
Frotten, who races the T53 division, qualified in 12th in the 800-metre with a personal best time of 2:06.48. She then flew up the standings to a fourth-place finish in the final at 2:08.21.
“It was so rainy. It never rains in Switzerland and it just pissed rain for all the finals, but I did finish pretty strong,” said Frotten. “I might have been quicker if I swam it.”
Frotten came in behind a Japanese racer in first, a Swiss racer in second and Canadian teammate Ilana Dupont in third. She crossed the line 0.89 seconds ahead of Bermuda’s Jessica Lewis, who won a gold at the Parapan Games last summer.
“She ran into me at the PanAms. I still haven’t gotten over it,” said Frotten with a chuckle.
Frotten also placed ninth in the 100-metre final at 18.50 after qualifying 10th in the heats at 19.28.
She qualified ninth in the 400-metre with a time of 1:02.00 but was disqualified for a lane violation in the final. The officials may have been a tad overly pedantic, she said.
“I had a bit of a lane violation,” said Frotten. “They were disqualifying people all over the place … I barely touched the lane!”
Frotten skipped the 200-metre event since that distance isn’t being raced at the Summer Paralympics in Rio, Brazil, this September.
She has reached Paralympic A qualifying standards in the 100-metre – including in Nottwil – but is struggling to get her 400 and 800 times down from B standard into the A. She was just one second from it in her 400 heat last week and needs to slice about six seconds off her 800.
Frotten set an A standard time in the 100 with a personal best of 18.24 three weeks ago at the Dogwood Track and Field Meet at the University of Victoria. She won four gold medals there, bringing her career total to 14 from the event.
It was also the first meet she tested out her new racer under race conditions.
“It’s a beautiful machine. It’s an OX (Engineering) racer from a Japanese company, and it’s the Cadillac of racers … Pretty much if the Batmobile had a race chair version, it would be this chair,” said Frotten after Dogwood.
Frotten made two finals at the International Paralympic Committee Athletics World Championships last fall in Doha, Qatar, placing seventh in the 200-metre and eighth in the 100-metre.
She qualified for worlds at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games in August where she won medals in two of her three events.
She was selected for the Parapan Games after winning five medals at the 2015 Canadian Track and Field Championships.
Trials for the Rio Paralympics will take place at track and field nationals this July in Edmonton.
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