Hughes & Makowsky – Going the Distance

The women’s 3000m event was all about Clara Hughes (Glen Sutton, QC) today, while the men’s 5000m event was won by Lucas Makowsky (Regina, SK), on the second day of the Canadian Long Track Team Selections in Calgary.

Hughes was in the second last pair to skate, and she completed the distance in 4:05.03 – roughly one second ahead of closest competitor Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) who crossed the finish line in a time of 4:06.08.

“I felt really good today and I knew I had to grab this opportunity to qualify for the 3000m event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games,” explained Hughes.

Prequalifed for the 5000m event, Hughes is no stranger to the Olympic Games, having already won a total of five medals: two in cycling and three in speed skating.

“I really wanted to qualify for this event at the Olympics,” continued the 37 year-old athlete. “The 5000m is my favourite distance, so I’ll be using the 3000m race as a practise run, in addition to being able to use it to relieve some competition-related stress prior to my big event,” confirmed Hughes.

Nicole Garrido (Calgary, AB) took third place with a time of 4:08.06. Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) has pre-qualifed for the 3000m as a result of her outstanding results at last year’s World Single Distance Championships and in the recent World Cup events. Three women will skate the distance for Canada at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Makowsky – Present for the 5000m Event

Though Lucas Makowsky may not have had a picture-perfect skate, he won today’s event in a time of 6:24.57 and will be at the starting line come February. Makowsky edged out Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) by 83 hundredths of a second.

“I was in the last pair to race today, I knew the time I needed in order to qualify,” commented Makowsky. “I used that late start to my advantage; though I could have skated better, the most important thing was to qualify,” he confided. This will be the first Olympic Games experience for the Saskatchewan native; his berth may well also enable him to earn a spot in the Team Pursuit.

“It’s a dream come true for me. Now that I know that I have a spot on Team Canada, there is less pressure on me for the 1500m race, so who knows what I can do now!”

Mathieu Giroux (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) was third in today’s event with a time of 6:25.74. Canada only has two Olympic berths in the 5000m event, and the participating skaters will be named officially in the next weeks.

Tuesday, Canada’s finest long track speed skaters will dispute the 1000m event; Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) and Denny Morrison have already qualified for the distance, and will not be skating.