Provincial short track records fall

GLEN DAWKINS -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Who said competitors can't work together?

Winnipeg short track speed skaters Alanna Junaid and Andrea Olmstead decided to take aim at the Manitoba junior women's 1,500 metres record at yesterday's Manitoba Short Track Speed Skating Championships at River Heights Community Centre. But they knew they were going to have to work together to get it done.

"We had talked about it before and we decided to work together to break the record," said Junaid, who held off Olmstead at the finish line to write her name in the record books with a time of two minutes and 46.050 seconds. Olmstead was second at 2:46.110, also well under the former record time of 2:46.78 set in 2000 by national long track team member Shannon Rempel.

"It meant quite a lot for all of us as a team (to break the record)," said the 16-year-old Junaid, a Grade 11 student at St. Mary's Academy.

For much of the 13.5-lap race, Junaid, Olmstead and fellow provincial team member Shayla Heidinger jockeyed for position, helping each other generate speed. But with five laps left, Heidinger fell off the pace, leaving Junaid and Olmstead to race neck and neck to the finish line.

"We try to go together and work together and leave it to the last few laps," said Olmstead, a 16-year-old Grade 10 student at Sisler High School. "Whoever has the most left, takes it."

Not to be outdone, Heidinger broke the junior women's 1,000m record Saturday, posting a time of 1:46.79 to better the mark of 1:48.26 set in 2001 by Jamie Polakoff. Junaid also dipped under the old record with a time of 1:47.27.

With two firsts and two seconds in the four races, Junaid was crowned provincial junior women's champion followed by Heidinger and Olmstead.

"(Breaking the 1,500m record) is good for the girls because it gives them confidence (going into Nationals)," said provincial coach Crispin Parkinson.

Next up for the skaters is the Canadian Short Track Championships, March 31-April 3 in Surrey, B.C.

"At nationals, there will be more than just the province of Manitoba (competing) and we have to work together," said Junaid.

Meanwhile, Julianna Janssens shattered the senior women's 500m record with a time 1:01.85. The former record was 1:03.10, set in 1999 by Heather Moffatt.

Randy Plett broke his own record in the Masters men's 500m. He posted a time of 50.80 seconds, bettering the Masters 2 mark of 51.30 set last year.

Matthew Mymryk swept all four of his races to win the junior men's event while Karlee Gendron topped the field in the juvenile girls event.

TOUGH BREAK: Manitoba's chances at the nationals suffered a severe blow yesterday morning when top juvenile boys skater and provincial team member Steven Minion broke his right leg just above the ankle. It appeared he caught his skate in the ice during the warm-up for the 500m.


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