KEARNS The Fastest Ice on Earth was almost missing one of the fastest skaters in America.
The Essent Speedskating World Cup season toes the starting line this weekend at the Utah Olympic Oval, and Shani Davis was ready to be a spectator instead of a participant.
Davis, a world record holder and arguably the best long track speed skater in the country, threatened to withdraw from the event because of a conflict over how he can use his personal coaches. US Speedskating, an organization Davis has butted heads with numerous times over the years about issues such as personal coaches, sponsors and where he trains, informed the reigning world-record holder in the 1,000 and 1,500 races his coaches are welcome at the Oval but would not be allowed on the ice or in the locker room.
Davis, in turn, told US Speedskating he would skip this weekend's races.
After bickering and negotiating, Davis will skate after all.
"Shani will skate Salt Lake City World Cup," reads an announcement on Davis' personal Web site, www.shanidavis.org. "The dispute between Shani and U.S. Speedskating regarding Shani's private coach having access to the ice has been resolved for the Salt Lake World Cup event." That's good news to speedskating fans, many of whom are tiring of the political wrestling that has kept many top Americans from training in Utah. Now Davis will have the opportunity to prove himself again with the world's best skaters.
The races are the first in the 2007-08 World Cup season, and there could easily be a few world records broken. The last time the Utah Olympic Oval hosted the World Cup last March there were seven records broken, and most of those athletes will be back on Utah's ice.
The Netherlands' Sven Kramer, the world's top long-distance skater, is scheduled to be competing on the same ice he shattered the 10,000-meter world record on in March. Korea's Kang-Seok Lee, likewise, snapped the 500-meter record at the Oval last March and will again aim for the top spot on the podium.
Jenny Wolf of Germany owns the women's 500 record, and Canada's Cindy Clausen will try to break her records in the 1,000-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter races.
Hoping a little home-ice advantage will work in its favor, the U.S. squad of Davis, Kip Carpenter, Ellie Ochowitz and Cathy Rainey will chase podium finishes as well.
Racing begins at noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free, and tickets can be picked up at Zions Bank locations.The Oval will not take the rest of the winter off, though. Apolo Anton-Ohno and the short track skaters will have a world cup event in February.
Skating season opens
Utah Olympic Oval, Nov. 9-11
500m Women - 1st
500m Men - 1st
1000m Women- 1st
500m Women- 2nd
1000m Men - 1st
500m Men - 2nd
1000m Women- 2nd
1000m Men - 2nd