I had no idea until very recently that some of the most talented and skilled athletes compete regularly in Valley at what many of us may call the ice rink.
, has three giant rinks and is filled this weekend with U.S. Olympic champions competing for some of the first steps toward the 2014 Winter Games (the Olympics) in Speed Skating Short Track.
It's the American Cup 1.
Speed skating short track is the sport we've watched on TV where spandex-clad forms in helmets lean into the terra firma at an angle on skates that surely defies the laws of physics, and jockey for first position at nearly 30mph under their own steam.
So for $5, you, friends and family, can go to the IcePlex (across Highway 40/64 from) in Chesterfield Valley this weekend to see experts, champions compete in this sport.
It's a close-up look at athletes you'll be watching on TV later in the 2014 Olympics. Maybe get an autograph.
IcePlex Assistant General Manager Eric Finch reminded me that the area has some clout when it comes to the icy sports.
"We've hosted numerous speed skating championships," Finch said Wedesday.
The state of Missouri has a super-charged speed skating association (MOSA) which has put members onto every U.S. Olympic teams since 1968.
"MOSA has been instrumental in this," Finch said. "We're very happy that an event of this stature is to come back to Hardee's Iceplex."
The Iceplex also has top coaches teaching at its rinks—St. Louis Blues ice hockey alumni, which tends to generate a lot of buzz in the world of ice sport.
"Some of the best in the country are coming out here," Finch said, talking about both players and instructors.
He said 700,000 people come through the door every year, at the Iceplex.
is located at 16851 North Outer 40 Drive. Going west on Hwy. 40/64, take the Boone's Crossing exit and turn back east along the Gumbo Flats farm fields (for sale) and you'll see the giant sign for Hardee's IcePlex, on the left.
They also have decent food at the IcePlex, grilled chicken, salads, chicken tenders, beer and wine. Go team!
Here's who's skating for the American Cup 1 this weekend.
Competition start times:
Saturday, Oct. 1, 11 a.m. Racing begins
- 1:20 p.m. –Women's and Men’s 1500m Semifinal
- 2:09 p.m. – Women's and Men’s 1500m Final
- 4:13 p.m. – Women's and Men’s 500m Semifinal
- 4:55 p.m. – Women's and Men’s 500m Final
Sunday, Oct. 2, 9 a.m. Racing begins
- 11:29 a.m. – Women's and Men’s 1000m Semifinal
- 11:57 a.m. – Women's and Men’s 1000m Final
- 12:41 p.m. – Women's and Men’s 1000m Final A&B
- 3:07 p.m. – Women's and Men’s 1500m Super Final
Expect to see:
- Katherine Reutter - Won two medals at the 2010 Olympics (silver in 1000m and bronze in Women's Relay.)
- Emily Scott - Springfield, MO native; five-time inline world champion.
- Travis Jayner – Won bronze medal 5000m Relay at the 2010 Olympics.
- J.R. Celski – Won two bronze medals at the 2010 Olympics (1000m and Men’s Relay.)
- Coach Jae Su Chun – U.S. National Team Short Track Coach since 2007.
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