Speed skater takes a rough trip to gold

YELLOWKNIFE Yukon’s Troy Henry may have lost the Arctic Winter Games record in the 500-metre speed skating sprint, but he still won the gold,…

YELLOWKNIFE

Yukon’s Troy Henry may have lost the Arctic Winter Games record in the 500-metre speed skating sprint, but he still won the gold, his second in as many days.

The new record was set in the semi-final by NWT skater Angus Smith — who skated the 500-metres in just 46.03 seconds.

When he went head-to-head with Henry in the final, he fell and Henry won it in 47.49 seconds.

“Congrats to Angus Smith, that used to be my record — good for him,” said Henry.

Poor conditions on the Olympic ice at the Yellowknife Multiplex had many skaters crashing into the pads — almost every race had more than one wipeout.

“It’s not that great out there, there were three falls in my race,” said Henry. “When I heard the guy behind me fall, and then the guy in third fell, I knew I could step it down a bit, so that I wouldn’t fall as well.”

Playing it safe meant gold for Henry, but no record time.

He nearly lost his edge in the semi-final, but held on to finish second in that race, still good enough to make the final.

A veteran skating in his fourth Arctic Games, Henry exuded confidence after his races on Tuesday night.

“I’ve been doing a lot of strength training, at Peak Fitness, so I have more explosive power in the start, and more strength in the corners,” said Henry, who favours the longer distance events, despite his success in the sprints.

“The start is absolutely key, paramount in the short races,” he said.

Henry is glad to be competing at the Arctics, but the Canada Games veteran is already looking ahead to the Canadian nationals at the end of the month in Quebec.

After that, he’s headed to Calgary in the summer to train at the Western National Training centre.

“I’m going to focus on skating there, while I go to school for machining — right now my focus is to try for the national team.”

In the meantime, Henry will try to get a few more gold ulus for his collection, with Thursday’s 777-metre race and Friday’s 1,500-metre and relays.

Other Team Yukon skaters are posting some good results as well.

“Our juvenile boys are doing quite well, Ryan Burke just skated in the final, and Shea Hoffman made the B-final, just missing out on the A-final,” said Yukon coach Phil Hoffman.

Also making the podium for Yukon was Melanie Tait, who won a bronze in the junior girls 1,000-metre on Monday.

First-timer Zach Smart scratched out of his races on Tuesday after injuring his ankle the day before.

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