Wichita getting dose of Olympics with amateur speed skating

WICHITA, Kansas — The thrill of one of the winter Olympics most intense sports will be felt here locally this weekend.

The air capital speed skating team will be holding a competition, a first of its kind in our area.

14-year-old Connor O’Dell has been in the sport of speed skating for three years, he says the main draw is the speed and that’s the easy part. Perfecting the technique takes time.

“There’s a lot to work on, almost everybody has something to work on,” said O’Dell.

O’Dell and more than 40 other people will take to the ice on Saturday for the first short track speed skating competition our area has ever seen. The Air Capitol Speed Skating Club is putting on the event and has been able to get skaters of all ages from all over to compete.

“We have people coming in from Colorado, Missouri and Illinois all coming to Wichita to race,” said Craig Goodloe, the head coach of the Air Capital Speed Skating Club.

Anne Parker came in from St. Louis to help officiate the event. Parker is a former competitive speed skater who has spent over 30 years in the sport.

She says this competition will give skaters the real atmosphere of those who are participating over in Sochi.

“It’ll be the same kind of format you see in the Olympics, with heats and finals,” said Parker.

Parker says the event also gives people who wouldn’t normally have access to the sport elsewhere, a chance to compete.

“This is a real regional opportunity for people to get competition where they would never have it at home,” said Parker.

Organizers say this is a sport even the most novice skaters can learn and are hoping this competition will help garner more local interest for the sport of speed skating.

The competition will kick off at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Wichita Ice Center. Competitors will go head to head in a variety of events including the 500 and 1500 meter races.

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