Pain doesn't slow Risling

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:08 AM ET

As a biology student, speed skater Tara Risling knows all about lactic acid and burning muscles.

She felt plenty of it last night during and after her gruelling 5,000-metre race the Canada Post All Round Championships at the Olympic Oval, which wrapped up the competition.

Despite the pain, made worse by sore shins, Risling gutted it out and finished third, good enough for her first Canadian championship following the three days of racing.

"I don't want to play it down too much because nationals is a big deal. But it would have been better if everyone had skated -- that makes a big difference," said the 23-year-old, referring to Ottawa's Kristina Groves, Winnipeg's Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., all of whom didn't skate in every race.

"I'm not saying I'm not happy about winning. You have to take what you can get."

And what Risling, who hails from Medicine Hat, got is a berth on the Winter World Cup teams, with the first starting Jan. 29 in Baselga, Italy.

As for her shins, she nearly bowed out before the race because she could barely stand on a pair of blades.

"I wanted to scratch and I'm having issues just even stabilizing on skates right now, so I'm thankful it's over," said Risling, who finished fourth in last year's Canadian championships.

"I've tried to make some technical changes in the past month that my shins just weren't ready for.

"They were tired and they've just gotten worse. I felt (my shins) start to go with 10 laps left but you can't always race under ideal conditions."

Risling also placed second in Tuesday's 3,000m. She skated her first World Cup in 2001 and was 13th overall in the 2003 world championships.

Klassen skated the 5,000m and easily won in seven minutes, 7.82 seconds, followed by Michelle D'Amours of Sainte-Foy, Que., in 7:25.16m, then Risling, who finished in 7:28.20.

The men's 10,000m winner and all around champion were not determined at press time.


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