KEARNS Elli Ochowicz has some mighty big skates to fill.
Her mother, Sheila Young, is a former medalist as an Olympic speedskater. Her father, Jim Ochowicz, is a former Olympic cyclist and a huge part of the professional cycling scene domestically and in Europe.
Power and performance with her legs is a natural activity, and for her to be anything but an athlete would have been a surprise.
This past weekend, Elli also a two-time Oympian did quite well in following her mother's footsteps by dominating the sprints at the U.S. Longtrack speedskating championships.
Sunday, Ochowicz earned convincing wins in the 500 and 1,000 meter races. Those were paired with her previous performances over the weekend and gave her an all-around sprint title with a 4.045 second combined margin of victory over Heather Richardson.
"You try peaking for different parts of the season," Ochowicz said, noting she didn't feel like she was at top personal form, but was quite pleased with the results she achieved this weekend. "My plan is to be more prepared for the later races. So this weekend tells me I'm definitely going in the right direction."
Ochowicz, along with Catherine Raney, is one of the few familiar faces at the Utah Olympic Oval since the 2006 Games in Turin. Most other veteran skaters have retired or faded away.
So to see herself atop the podium several times this weekend doesn't surprise her much. To set personal best times and see steady improvement, though, is something she's happy to realize.
"Each year is preparation for the next Olympics," Ochowicz said. "We'll work three or four years all for 30-something seconds on the ice. So I'm hoping this means we're going to be in good shape next time."
Raney won the 1,500 and 5,000 on Friday and the 3,000 on Thursday, to win another all-around title combined with her second-place performance in the Thursday 500.
The four-day event saw dozens of personal bests recorded with the distance racers owning the oval Thursday and Friday and the sprinters being given their time in the spotlight on Saturday and Sunday.
Tucker Fredricks and Kip Carpenter took turns blazing circles around the oval on Sunday to pick up wins. Fredricks, who has found himself on a few World Cup podiums in Europe in recent weeks, dominated the 500 while Carpenter overcame a fall, a sliced ankle and a few stitches to win the 1,000.
Carpenter received frequent treatment from doctors and trainers at the rink Saturday after his wipeout and during Sunday's final race.
The crash resulted in being taken out of the U.S. title chase, but left his World Cup standing intact.
Fredricks, likewise, had little to worry about in terms of keeping his spot in the U.S. World Cup roster. Yet, when he toed the line his competitive nature overwhelmed his momentary lack of motivation.
"I was flat. I had no energy and I was prequalified, so it didn't matter to me," Fredricks said. "But once I get to the line, once you start setting up, I just think about winning and that's it."Many of the national team will now return to Europe for the resumption of the World Cup season leading up to the world championships in Japan in March.
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