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Korean Marathon Series
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   - Chun Chon, Korea
   Friday, May 16, 2003

K2's Svensson takes another Gold
John Svensson wins his third marathon out of five in the Korean Marathon Series. 

It was a warm and sunny day in down town Chun Chon where the start of the 42km inline skate marathon took place. About 2000 skaters lined up for what many said was one of the most beautiful marathon courses in Korea. A large portion of the course ran along Lake Eui Am where the steep mountains ran almost vertically into the water, weaving in and out following the natural terrain of the mountains.

The gun sounded and the race was off to a blistering pace right from the start with the local Chun Chon race team determined to take the lead. This split up the field into several packs after only a few kilometers. The lead pack, after things settled down, consisted of about 25 to 30 skaters. The first breakaway attempt was at about the 5k mark on the bridge crossing over the So Yang river. This was initiated by Belotti's Lee Gee Ha with the Salomon's Cody Winter in hot pursuit. They were able to put a good 75 meters on the pack before Fila's Kim Bum Sik became nervous and went into the chase mode and closed the gap. There were several more attempts to break away from the pack but all failed. The pack was determined to bridge the gap each and every time.

It wasn't until at the 30km point at the base of the largest hill that K2's Svensson started a brutal break. With a strong tail wind the pack of still about 25 strong hit the transition area into the hill. For some reason the pack leaders slowed down. Whether it was the psyche out of the hill or the unwillingness to lead up the hill this ended up being a big mistake.  K2's Svensson who was last in the back at this point wanted nothing to do with this recoiling slinky and leapt out of the draft to maintain his speed and accelerate by the pack. What appeared to be a full out sprint was maintained all the way over the crest of the hill.

At this point it was as if a "bomb" had gone off. The pack was completely blown apart. Only 3 skaters were able to hang with K2's Svensson as he went over the crest and powered into the down hill. Svensson took the low form of a downhill speed skier being pushed from behind by Fila's Lee Bun Sik, Verducci's Lee Jung Min and Belotti's Lee Gee Ha . This was a critical down hill to be working together on since the trailing pack had more people and more mass to potentially go faster and catch the leaders. Luck was on their side and the trailing pack didn't have time to regroup to take advantage of the down hill. It was a long gradual down hill that consisted of about 10% power strokes 90% tuck. By the bottom of the hill the leaders had over 200 meters on the main pack that still hadn't completely regrouped. Later K2's Svensson quoted " that was the critical break the that determined the results of the Race"

The next 10k the lead group worked together and was able increase there lead to over a minute dispute the powerful head wind. The last 2k no one wanted to lead and the pace slowed down and it became a game of cat and mouse until K2's Svensson looked back and appeared worried that the main pack was gaining rapidly and took the lead through down town Chun Chon. With a 1000 meters to go Verducci's Lee came from the back and shot by the group in a full sprint and created an instant gap of about 15 meters. This triggered a panic and Fila's Lee and Belotti's Ha immediately went into the chase mode followed by K2's Svensson. 500 meters later Verducci's Lee was caught looking back as the lactates in his legs began to take over as he began to slow down. He was immediately caught by Belotti's Ha and Fila's Kim followed by K2's Svensson. With 200 meters to go Fila's Cho went into a low power position reaching deep for more speed passing Belotti's Ha. A right hand turn and 150 meters to go Svensson takes the inside line clipping the curb as he crossed over to the right accelerating out into the lead. Sprinting down the final stretch Its K2's Svensson all the way followed by Fila's Cho and Belotto's Ha.

After the race during an interview 42 year old Svensson was asked what his secret was to keeping up with the younger more aggressive crowed he said it was mainly due to a new technology skate that he has been developing with K2. When asked more about these new skates he said "I can't tell you to much today it's top secret, but I can say that three out of the last five races that I won in the marathon series was on our new technology and the other two I used our standard set up and wasn't so lucky". When asked when K2's new technology will be available for the public. He said some time early this next year.

©K2 Speedskating and www.RaceReports.net

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