According to the Olympic Oval website, Canadian Olympic gold medalist Christine Nesbitt of London, Ontario won the women's 1500m on Thursday at the 2014 Canadian Olympic Speed Skating Team Selection Trials in Calgary.
It has been a difficult year for Nesbitt, who got of to a tough start during the World Cup season, and failed to earn a podium finish at World Cup events in Calgary or Salt Lake. Nesbitt then decided to train diligently with her coach rather than compete in World Cups in Kazakhstan or Germany.
Nesbitt's time on Thursday was 1:55.74. Even though she won the women's 500m and 1000m as well this week in Calgary, there is still a lot of work to do as her time on Thursday was still almost a full three seconds slower than her personal best.
One of Nesbitt's problems she admits has been her mental state. In Calgary this past November, she "didn't have the fight." Nesbitt was satisfied with her starts, but has been dissatisfied with her finishes.
Here is my recent interview with Nesbitt, the defending Olympic champion in the women's 1000m speed skating event.
In your training, are you more focused on the women's 1000m or 1500m, or is it a combination of both?
It's a combination of both. I think that I am a very strong medal contender in both disciplines at the Olympics. I maybe slightly more favoured toward the 1000m, but I think there's no reason I can't bring home a medal if I skate well at the Olympics. Also training for the 1500m just compliments the 1000m really well and vice versa. The 1000m compliments the 1500m really well. It makes sense to train them both.
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, the defending Olympic champion in the women's 1500m and the defending women's 1500m World Champion, is probably going to be one of your top competitors. What can you tell me about her?
She's someone that just shows up every weekend whether she is skating well or not. She has so much grit and you can never count her out. She's had horrible seasons and then at World Championships she still pulls out medals because she wants it so bad and she fights really hard. She somehow grunts out the laps in a fast enough pace. I used to be kind of scared of her, when I was younger. But I think I'm a very consistent athlete, just like her. Without her being there in my career, she wouldn't have showed me that that's possible, or nobody would have shown me to be that consistent or that much of a fighter. In her own way, she's helped me to become the athlete that I am today.
Is there anything specific you are looking for to be better on the track?
A little more confidence, and a little more determination. I think that I am skating technically well. I've had a really good training base. It's a matter of putting that technique and the right mindset.
Do you feel pressure in carrying the torch from Cindy Klassen and continue the success in Canadian female speed skating?
Yeah, I've definitely felt a bit of pressure with that, and a bit of frustration too. We lost a lot of veterans after the Vancouver Olympics. I was winning medals back then, but I had so many peers on the team who were also bringing back medals. So the pressure was kind of distributed throughout the team. It was a team of excellence. Now it's quite a young team and not the same maturity level, seriousness and focus. As much as a young team is really great, they bring a lot of positive energy and excitement, which is great for me as I get older and grumpier. But definitely there are moments where it's frustrating that I have to carry the team. That's just the way it goes. I want to be the best. I know I'm setting a good example for a lot of the girls on the team. I'm more of a leader by example. I don't think I am the most nurturing person, but I think at first a lot of the girls are intimidated by how focused and seriously I take training and eating. I think as they improve, they are starting to get that's what you need to do to be the best and to achieve your potential.
Is there a specific time you want to achieve in the women's 1000m and 1500m speed skating events at the Olympics?
No there is not at the moment and I want to keep it that way. Focusing on the time and focusing on the outcome is not going to get me the outcome that I want. Like I said, I had really good training this year and my technique I think has improved since last season, and it's focusing on what I can do in the moment. Putting my skates down flat on the ice, feeling a lot of pressure pushing to the side on the straightaways and having an aggressive basic position while I lean forward on my skates. It's those kinds of things that I have to think about in my race. If I'm thinking in my race I have to go 1:14 something or another, it's not going to happen.