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Shelley Osterloh ReportingThis is day two of the four day long US Speedskating Olympic Trials. For some, this is the a shot at making that Olympic team; for others, it’s just one step closer to Tornino.
There are some skaters, like Casey FitzRandolph and Jennifer Rodriguez, who have already pre-qualified for the Olympics because of their World Cup performances. But others are still trying to make the team.
The first day of trials included two 500 meter races for both men and women. Casey FitzRandolph is a three time Olympian who won the gold medal in the 500 in 2002. He also won the combined 500 races at the Olympic Trial, followed by 21-year old Tucker Fredricks who is hoping to make his first Olympic team.
Kip Carpenter finished third. Joey Cheek, the only other pre-qualified skater, stumbled on a block, twisted his ankle and slid across the finish on his back.
FitzRandolph says this will probably be his last Olympics and he is savoring every moment of the journey to Torino.
Casey FitzRandolph, Olympic Speedskater: "Now here, I'm just enjoying things as they come and this is one competition, the Olympics will be another one, but win lose or draw, I'm having a lot of fun."
Jennifer Rodrigez is the only woman pre-qualified for the 500, but it was EllI Ochowicz that won the combined races to secure her spot on the Olympic team. It’s likely two-time Olympian Amy Sannes and Chris Witty will make the team too.
Though a real long shot to make the Olympic team, a 49-year old airline pilot was a favorite of the crowd. Bruce Conner is the brother of Olympic gymnast Bart Conner. Bruce retired from speedskating when he failed to make the Olympic team in 1976. He started skating recreationally eight years ago and qualified for the trials. Though it’s doubtful he will make it Torino, he says he is still a winner.
Bruce Conner, US Speedskater: "It certainly is true for me, is that the only way to fail for me is to quit, and I'm certainly not a quitter."
At 49-years old you might think Connor is the oldest, but there is another skater at the Olympic Trials who is older, 53- year old Boris Leikin of Salt Lake City. Competition continues Friday and Saturday at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns.