Ice speed skating champs return

For the first time in four years the national short track ice speed skating championships are being held in Christchurch, at the Alpine Ice Centre this weekend.

While top skater Blake Skjellerup is in Asia at the first of the World Cup events attempting to qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, an eight-man field will contest the senior men's event over 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 3000m.

Among the seniors, 14-year old Auckland skater Zac Biggs, son of the world champion relay team member Matthew Biggs, will be a top contender. Biggs finished seventh out of a field of 22 skaters in the senior men's event at the recent Australian championships.

Canterbury skater Caitlin Phillips is expected to dominate the large sub junior ladies grade which will also feature two fast young juvenile skaters, Mikayla Biggs and Francesca Williamson.

Ethan De Rose, who convincingly won his grade at the Australian championships, should also take out the national juvenile grade.

Meanwhile, there were some outstanding efforts from Canterbury competitors at the Australian championships in Melbourne last weekend.

Cashmere High's Lucy Burridge won the junior women's grade with fellow club member Courtney Coburn second.

Phillips skated well to win the sub-junior women's grade from 13 skaters. It is Phillips' fifth consecutive Australian title.

De Rose stamped his name on the midget grade boys' title, winning all of his heats and final races. In the same grade, newcomer Michiel van Heyningen finished fifth from a field of nine.

Williamson, 11, shone winning the midget grade girls' championship and in the process broke two Australian records in the 222m distance with a time of 24.480 sec and 333m in 35.740 sec.

Chris Jarden, competing in the senior men's grade, finished 11th overall winning the D 500m final and finishing 4th in the B 3000m final.

The Southland Times