Friday, 24 February 2017 12:21

Saratoga Winter Club Crowns 6 National Champs

By Norra Reyes | Sports
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Paul Ripchik, president of the Saratoga Winter Club (SWC), could not be more proud of the achievements of the club’s speedskaters this year, who’ve just returned from two weekends of speedskating in Lake Placid. “The club dominated the Empire State Games, winning a bucket full of medals,” said Ripchik. And the weekend of February 11, the club sent 16 athletes to compete in the U.S. Speedskating Long Track Age Group National Championships. “We crowned 7 national champions and other distance medals, along with the club winning the overall National Club Championship,” added Ripchik. Ripchik’s son, Spencer, a Saratoga Springs High School freshman, has been speedskating since he was 5 years old. He placed 5th overall out of 12 at Nationals, earning 3 gold medals. His 7th grade sister, Ellie, earned 2 golds. “I like going fast,” he said. “My fastest 500-meter time is 47 seconds. I’ve competed in short track in Nationals before, but this was my first at the long track. You might not be good at first, but stick with it because you get better over time, and especially with our coaches in the winter club.” There are two Olympians coaching in the Saratoga Winter Club, and the team helps each other out, too. Albert Zhong, 17, of Guilderland High School finished first in all five distances he raced, and is a national champion in his age group. He’s been skating for 10 years. “I’m hoping to go to Junior World Trials next year and try to make the world championship team, and represent the U.S.,” he said. “My personal best in the 1,500 meters was 2 minutes, 18 seconds.” He said he has moved a few times and that switching coaches had been a challenge because they have different teaching styles. “I’ve been here at Winter Club for 6 or 7 years, and the coaches at this club are excellent. Having the same coach over the years is great because they get to know how you skate and what you need to do to improve.” Ripchik says the club is a hotbed of speedskating in the northeast. “We’ve had between 15-16 Olympians out of the club, skating right here down at Weibel Avenue,” he said. “We definitely have five vying for an Olympic spot out of our club. There’s a really good chance of two or maybe three qualifying in December 2017 and January 2018. The club set our sights on sending as many as we could to nationals, and they far exceeded my expectations. They outpointed the next team by about 25 points. It was a great weekend, great camaraderie, beautiful weather, and the overall spirit of the winter sport of speedskating was definitely there.” Long Track Nationals Lake Placid Results February 11-12 Age Group National Champions from SWC Trevor Marsiciano (2010 Olympian and Silver Medalist), Senior Division, Ballston Spa Chris LaPointe, 30-39 age, Greenwich Rebecca Simmons, Senior Female, Averill Park Jennifer Kirsch, 30-39 Female, Coxsackie Marty Haire, 50-59, Quaker Springs Amy Peterson-Peck (5 Time Olympian- Carried US Flag into opening ceremony in 2002), 40-49 age, Schuylerville Albert Zhong, Jr B Division Male, Guilderland 2017 Empire State Games Lake Placid NY Feb 3-5 Local Medalist Zayda Greczkowski Pre-Scholastic B-4 Silver, 2 Bronze (Saratoga) Hannah King Pre-Scholastic B - 1 Gold, 2 Bronze (Schuylerville) Ellie Ripchik Pre-Scholastic A - 2 Gold, 5 Silver (Saratoga) Spencer Ripchik Scholastic B - 3 Gold (Saratoga) Santiago Hurtado Scholastic B - 3 Silver (Clifton Park) Natalie Hurtado Pre - Scholastic A - 5 Gold, 2 Silver (Clifton Park) Hanson Peck Pre-Scholastic B - 2 Gold, 4 Silver Sarah Walton Masters Women - 1 Silver, 1 Bronze (Schuylerville) Trevor Marsiciano Open Men - 3 gold (Ballston Spa) Mark Yanigihara Masters Men - 3 Gold (Ballston Spa)
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