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Keystone Invitational Pro Women
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   Cornwells Bensalem, PA
   Sunday, February 23, 2003

By Paul DiJulio, Coach Mogema-Labeda Speed Team 2003

Surprisingly, the biggest meet of this season just took place this past weekend in Bensalem, Pennsylvania at the Cornwells Skating Center. The Eastern Leagues Annual Invitational was a huge success this year. With well over 400 skaters from all over the United States this meet had all the makings of a premiere eventand it delivered.

Team Mogema/Labeda Women, Kimberly Derrick and Erin Di Julio, were there proving that the Mogema team is a force to be reckoned with this year. Competing in the Pro/Elite division, both of these young ladies demonstrated their potential throughout the weekend. Kimberly Derrick won the 500 meter sprint beating a strong field that included Verduccis Theresa Cliff. Theresa placed second in this event, but came back strong showing why she is the most decorated woman in the history of inline speed skating. In the points race, it was Erin Di Julio and Kimberly Derrick working together to try and capture enough points to hold off Theresa, who showed continually why experience counts! The speed of the skaters was fairly even, but getting the jump on the field when trying to capture points seemed to make the difference and gave Theresa the win, with Kimberly Derrick in 2nd and Erin Di Julio in 3rd.

At the end of these two races, the stage was set for a show-down between Theresa Cliff and Kimberly Derrick as both had 50 points towards overall and the winner would certainly be determined in the final race, a 3000 meter last-man-out (elimination race). In the beginning, Derrick and Di Julio seemed to be comfortably doing what they wanted in the race. They moved effortlessly through the pack and easily kept from being eliminated as they moved down to 4 laps to go and 4 skaters remaining. Unfortunately for them, Cliff was masterful as well, easily making it to the final showdown. The surprise of the race, was High Points Amber Yarborough who had done well this meet and was in contention for 3rd place. With 2 laps to go, Di Julio seemed to try and keep the inside lane closed by skating close to the pylons and forcing any passing that was going to be done to occur on the outside, taking up more real estate and a longer time. Hopefully, this would help protect her teammate and ensure it was Cliff and Derrick in the final sprint. It was Cliff who made the first move and took the lead with Derrick right on her tail. As the ladies crossed the line with one to go, both skaters seemed to be so evenly matched, that it would come down to the last turn. As they came out of turn 1, Derrick tried to kick in the afterburners and take the inside line, but the crafty veteran Cliff, moved inside as well to set up her final turn. This caused Derrick to almost stand completely up, and she was forced to give up the pass or crash. Going in to the final turn, Cliff was able to hold on for the win, just edging out Derrick for one of the most exciting finishes of the meet. Di Julio came in 4th with Yarborough taking 3rd.

At the end of the race, all three ladies, 2 wearing the Mogema/Labeda colors, and one wearing the Verducci colors, congratulated each other for a great race. It was refreshing to see that there was no animosity, anger, or even frustration over any of the races. These ladies raced their hearts out trying to win one for their respective sponsors, but in the end, no one had tried to cheat, and no one had done anything dirty to any other skater. It was a battle to be sure, but a fair, clean battle that both victor and finishers could be proud to have been a part of. Theresa Cliff is one of the most admired skaters of all time as you can see if you visit the Mogema website and look at Kimberlys or Erins pages. They both have Teresa Cliff as the skater they admire most.

In the relays, the combination of Derrick and Di Julio was simply outstanding. By the ladies second tag, just 4 laps into the race, they had built up almost a half lap lead and just put it on cruise control, while cruising to an easy victory.

At the end of the weekend, the contingent from Team Mogema/Labeda had demonstrated to the skating community that they are a force to be reckoned with. The ladies have been steadily improving each race and can only get better. Most everyone agreed that it was refreshing to see a new sponsored team making its mark. Seems the ladies are generating a lot of excitement, and hopefully, that will continue and help promote the sport making it better for everyone involved.

Kimberly Derrick

Erin DiJulio

 

For full results see this report: http://www.racereports.net/ReportDetail.asp?Race=147

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