When it comes to the cream of the cream, you usually only look at the seniors, but we have to look at one Junior for 2008, with World Inline Cup & World champs given the top billing.
In 2008 there were 3 Superstars of the speedskating world: Joey Mantia, Cecilia Baena & Yann Guyader.
MANTIA won 4 WIC events in 6 starts, while he was sick for the World track champs, he came back with a vengence, to win 3 World road titles & grab a World record as well. He left the Wic in Europe as he started in devastating form, he got the Superman tag to the Superstar tag, with his fantastic late withering burst in the Berlin Marathon, he came past 20 of the World best in the last 200 meters, like a bolt of lightening, with a magnificant lunge to leave a bewildered Fabio Francolini in 2nd place, with the unfortunate memory of having been beaten, by one of the great field sprints of all time.
BAENA with the Desire to win the WIC Cecilia finally committed herself to a full season in Europe, making a big committement to forgo the 2008 World championships. In her past visits over the previous years, she had proven, she was good enough to win alone. But with fellow Colombian Alexandra Vivas, Tamara Llorens Argentina & Nicole Begg New Zealand, she also had the support of 3 of the Worlds top performed Long distance skaters beside her in team Bont, with the team winning both the Swiss & World Inline Cup Teams events, 1st & 2nd in SIC & a clean sweep 1, 2 & 3 in the WIC. In 12 events contested Cecilia won 7, was 2nd in two, 3rd in one & her worst results a 5th & 6th, a truely imposing record,with total domination, also doubled up with the prestigious Swiss Inline cup title if Cecilia gets to the last 200 meters in good shape, there was basically only one result
GUYADER He has often been refered to as Napolean, as he wants to conquer everyone, the volitile Yann has unquestionable skating ability, but his antics often cause discontent, but I doubt if an imposing record for a season like his 2008, has ever been accomplished before. Opening upthe season by winning the two Big European race meets the Tres Pistas & Gross Gera.won French, European & World individual titles.
To top it all off the Swiss, French & World Inline cup titles, were all conquered by him, plus helping his well drilled Alessi team of Fabio Francolini, Stefano Galliazzo, Matteo Amabili & Elio Cuncu, to win the teams overall SIC & WIC, for a nice double, with Francolini 3rd in the WIC & Galliazzo 7th & Amabili 8th. In 2006 I told one of the Worlds top men, this guy was good & had good speed over 500 meters, after seeing him at Gross Gera, he laughed a bit & only told me he was just racing mugs. Well he raced everyone at every level in 2008 & he won here there & everywhere.
Neither had a spectacular build up, neither looked like to Gold medal winner, as the qualifying rounds unfolded, everyone had other names on their lips as to who the World Champ would be, but amazing how even at a World champs the pressure can get to athletes, then we heard of such things as taking the wrong lines & not checking their gear.
But none of the remarks were applicable to the two time trial kings of the last decade, as first Kalon Dobbin on the Track & Gregory Dugento on the road, added another rainbow time trial jersey to their collection. Now on the wrong side of thirty, how long can we expect to see them remain at the top.
Pedro Causil the Colombian Junior claimed the new track World Record, the seniors may still have one year's grace before he moves to senior, so no panic yet for 2009, but Australian Daniel Greig the road T/T winner in 2007 & 2008 is due to move up to senior.
In what was probably his very last inline World championship Shane Dobbin the quiet Kiwi, won the mens marathon, with a very good Kiwi support effort, this was Shanes 3rd senior World title win, each 4 years apart, in 2000 the double marathon in Coloimbia, 2004 the road pointds in Italy & 2008 the Spanish victory..
In the long distance ladies events Woo Hyo Sook won 2 track & 1 road World titles, the fleet footed experienced Korean only had one or two genuine challengers. 3 wins in the last 6 years in the 10,000 points Elimination track, along with 5 World titles in the last two years, put her up there in the last decade as one of the Worlds top distance performers, along with the likes of Alexandra Vivas.
After starting the WIC season 2nd, then suffering a horrific crash, with a full brocken jaw up near the ear & several stitches in a chin wound Nicoles Begg's season could have well been over, but fully wired up & only fluids for 2 months, was a big challenge. While missing 2 months of valuable power work & limited training, her World chances were severly diminished. But to finish with 2 silver medals, lose another possible gold in a crash while leading the 10,000 road points, retaining an overall World title for the 3rd consecutive year, then finish 2nd in WIC, was a reward for her tenacity.
It seemed like the USA ladies sprinters Brittany World Record Bowe & Sara Sayasane were on a mission to damage the reputations of the Italian & Colombian ladies sprinters, a job they done well & return home as World champions. Brittany also collected a couple of WIC podiums during the year, fitting in with college & College Basketball, an excellent athlete.
What an example to the younsters, be he 35, 36 or 37 years the tough as teak ageless warrior Stefano Galliazzo, is still right up there with the very best of them. A great example of keeping yourself in good shape & enthusiasm for racing, for a great goal try & challenge Stefano's record for top level longevity.
He done it again for a win in Suzhou, he done it previously in Munich & Engadine WIC races & many other times, Max Presti was the skater who ruled his teams with an iron fist, but if his team could not help him achieve the win, he would often cut a deal with opponents, so he could get to the line first to still finish 4th overall, with lack of team support & not the designated team winner was a great effort for Max.
Well Luca Saggioratto -Max Presti's Lieutenant-, understudy & lead out man for a number of seasons, had his chance in 2008 to step out of the shadow of the WIC KIng, but he ran into an impetiuos & impatient Yann Guyader who belived the crown should be his. It was very hard to work out Rollerblade's tactics at times & the overall mens win would have left them with a title for 2008, but it was not to be as there were other things on the agenda.
Francesco Zangarini & Fabio Francolini are both light on their feet & these two Italians give the impression of dancers, they are always there about in the group, but never glaringly standing out, just gliding along in the pack, ready to sweep their opponents off their feet.
NOTABLE WIC WOMEN
Had it not been for Giovanna Turchiarelli (Alseesi Powerslide) in the bunch sprint finishers, Bont may well have gone 1 & 2 in 75% of the races. The Ageless Rain Godess Hilde Goevaarts, World Marathon Champion in 1995 & the breakaway Expert & former Ice Junior World champion Elma de Vries, from the Dutch based CadoMotus team both won a WIC race each. Alexandra Vivas two WIC wins, with 3rd in the WIC & 2nd in the SIC, while she could add to her 8 World Senior titles, it was a good season. Jana Gegner got a win, as did french women Anne Sophie Petiprez at Dijon, while the top skaters were away in Incheon. Sara Erviti (Venezuela), got on the podium in Incheon & was the only newcomer to the WIC to finish in the top 10. Sandra Gomez Spain 5th, Tamara Llorens Argentina 7th & Nadine Gloor Switzerand 9th were other top 10 finishers
MEN NEW TO THE BIGTIME
Filling 8th, 9th & 10th overall in the WIC were Italian Matteo Amabili, Venezuelan Alexander Bastidas & Swiss skater Severin Widmer, they all had impressive performances at the World championships also, with Amabili being very unlucky on the track at Worlds, these 3 have the capacity to be both future World & WIC stars.
They made the top 20 overall in the WIC, young keen & tough Nicolas Zammudio, Antonio Ruales, Christian Diaz Granados (Colombia); D.J. Nation & Peter Micheal (New Zealand), we have not heard the last of this group. While nolonger young guns two of the experienced tough campaigners Ben Alchin (New Zealand) 17th & Kepa Cabellero (Spain)19th finished in the top 20, in the toughest & most competitive year in the WIC, when a top 20 was almost worth a top 10 in previous years.
Antoio Ruales (Colombia, Wolvega), Jorge Bolanos (Ecuador, Dijon) & Alexander Bastidas (Venezuela, Coni X Race Berlin), first year men, part of the 2008 South American Invasion who went home with a win. Rollerblade's experienced Diego Rosero & Nicolas Iten also picked up wins.
The Matter World Inline Center team, who promised so much, but got to the podium once. Their consistency saw them place 3rd overall in the WIC, unfortunately the classy Andres Muñoz did not pull a top place but was impressive at worlds. Rollerblade Ladies, form was very up & down, team leader & 2005 & 2007 WIC winner Laura Lardani set the trend, with only one podium in 2008.
A red hot favourite in the Time Trials, Wouter Hebritch, going home with 2 Bronze medals. Scott Arlidge did not fire. A fan told me the fastest lady you have ever seen, but Erika Zanetti dis not show it in Spain. Brigitte Mendez seemed out of form, they are all sure to show up in the future, but will have already forgotten 2008.