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First World Cup victory crown on Jamie Gregg’s season

 



It has been a good season for Jamie Gregg. He started out with some strong performances, and despite a slightly weaker middle part, he was able to give a good end to his season, with his very first gold medal at a World Cup, in the 500m at the World Cup Finals in Berlin. In between summer training camps, Gregg looks back on his season, in which he not only tasted his first World Cup victory, but also got to skate the World Sprint Championships in front of a home crowd and skated the World Single Distance Championships in Heerenveen.

 


By Jolanda Abbes

 



How do you look back in general on the past season, and what would you consider to be the highlight and greatest disappointment?

“I am pretty satisfied with the way the season went overall. I started off pretty strong and had some struggles in the middle but then was able to skate well at the end of the year. My highlight of the season would be my first gold medal that I got in Berlin at World Cup Finals. It wasn't an overly spectacular race, it was just solid and I proved that a solid race for me can put me on the podium. My biggest disappointment would have to be the 500m at World Singles. I wasn't able to translate the good skating that I had in Berlin into Heerenveen for World Singles so that was very disappointing to me.”

How do you look back in general on World Sprints, and the fact that you got to skate it at your home oval?
“World Sprints was great to skate in front of the Canadian fans in Calgary. There was a program that the Olympic Oval Organizing Committee set up that allowed clubs from Alberta to get discounted tickets and sit in the same section and that section was great to start in front of because I knew that they were supporting me no matter how I skated. I had three pretty good races at World Sprints but the first 1000m was a horrible race for me and put me out of contention and that was pretty devastating. I would rank that race as one of my biggest disappointments of the season along with the 500m at World Singles.”

What would you consider to be your best race at World Sprints, and can you give a brief analysis of that race?
“My second 500m was my best race in Calgary. I was coming off a horrible 1000m the day before but despite that I was able to skate pretty well and skated my fastest time of the season. It was my second fastest opener of all time for that race and I had a slight slip entering the first corner which cost me a little speed. The rest of the race was pretty solid and I had a good race with my pair all the way to the line. He ended up beating me by a little but I still clocked in a good time, making it my best race of World Sprints.”

You won your first World Cup gold medal ever, this season in Berlin; how do you look back on that day?
“In the warm-up before racing in Berlin I tried something a little different with my skating and tried to just keep my shoulders up as much as possible and I could feel that my pushes were good doing that so I made it my goal to do the same thing in the race. Just before my race I had a little time, so I walked around outside (it was actually sunny in Berlin) and relaxed by laying down on a hill in the sun. I think that brought me some good relaxation and focus, which is probably the reason for my good race. The opener of that race was pretty normal for me but in the first corner I could feel that I was really hooking up with my pushes. The same held for the backstretch and I got a little off my gameplan for the second corner but had enough speed to get through it well. I came across the line and was happy with my time but did not think it was fast enough to win, but maybe fast enough for a medal. I took my skates off and watched all the remaining pairs skate and by the end I found that I finished first! I was pretty happy but was more focused on trying my best to remember what I had done so that I could replicate it the next day and for the rest of the season.”

How do you look back on the World Single Distances Championships, and what was you best race there?
“Looking back I am not that happy with my skating at World Singles. Berlin was just two weeks before and I was skating my best of the season there and then I just couldn't get the same skating for Heerenveen. I would say that my best race was the 1000m. My opener was awesome, my second fastest of all time and fastest on European ice by far. I had a little miscue coming out of the second corner and that messed up my position a bit and I never really got it back for the rest of the race. I still finished in a pretty good position though, and so I would say that was my best race of World Singles.”


How is summer training going? What will be important points for you to focus on?
“I am enjoying my summer training because I know that all that hard work will pay off in the winter during racing. I want to focus on being strong in a low position as much as possible because I believe that is what really allows me to go fast.”

How do you look forward to next season, keeping Sochi 2014 in mind? What will be important things for you to focus on?
“I look forward to traveling to Asia next Fall if I am lucky enough to qualify, I always like skating in Asia. I think that the most important thing to focus on next year is just putting consistent races together. I want to prove that my gold medal was not just a fluke. I also really look forward to skating in Sochi at next year's World Singles, it will be good to get a feel of the ice that the next Olympics will be skated on.”

Together with fellow speed skaters Danielle Wotherspoon, Gilmore Junio, Tamara Oudenaarden and Kate Hanly, Gregg has started Team Icespire. In their own words, Team Icespire is “a group of Canadian National Team Speed Skaters inspiring and empowering the community through sport, teamwork, healthy living and respect”. Make sure to learn more about this initiative at http://www.teamicespire.com/!



Photo credits:
Photo 1 and 3: DESGphoto/Lars Hagen
Photo 2: Erik Pasman