Wednesday, November 02, 2005
96 Skaters Online
Gate City Thanksgiving Classic
   Invitational Greensboro, NC
   Thursday, November 27, 2003



Story & Photos: Jim Larson-Hyper Racing

The 22nd Annual Dennis Snead Gate City Thanksgiving Classic got under way. The sponsors for the event were: Jimmy Blair of PINNACLE RACING, Jim Larson of HYPER RACING, and Henk Baars from MOGEMA USA and Kyle Joustra of MILLENNIUM SKATES USA. They were all on hand with their latest products. The Howards were on point with the 22nd Annual Gate City Event T-shirts as well. 20 Speed Clubs from as far as Illinois to the East Coast supported this event, which made this event a huge success and possibly even better for 2004.

With over 350 entries this year, topping the total from the previous year by almost 100 entries, the racing started on Thanksgiving Evening with the Heats of 3 Person events. After the playing of the National Anthem, the red, white and blue were not the only colors flying this weekend! The red, white, and black, of the Frenchtown Speed Team were also flying high.

The Creveling Family was out in full force to take total control.  Chris Creveling just returning from the World Championships in Venezuela looked to be in top form. The Junior World teamer took 2nd overall in the Junior Mens division to Darren Kaufman from Empire Speed NY. Chad Rigsby of Precision Inline had a couple of bad breaks as he was looking to be in contention for the Junior Title. Chad Horne showed he wasnt going to mess around. The young gun from Highpoint is showing what he has early on, as he went on to totally destroy the entire field of Freshman boys.

Amber Yarborough and Heather Richardson battled to a one-two finish in the Sophomore Womens division for Team High Point. Heather also coming off her first Team USA World Championships seemed to be in great skating shape. Taking it to the rest of the Junior Ladies field and showing that she is going to be a contender this year for the National title was Jacqueline Blair of Precision Inline out of Roswell GA. I had a chance to chat with her father, Jim Blair Sr., about how Jacqueline has been coming along and we both agreed that the Hyper Nitrous Hi-Lo made a big difference in her technique. Since switching her over to the Hi-Lo frame I told him maybe we found the solution in solving the equation for Jacqueline bringing home that Junior Title this year in Lincoln NE. Jim did agree and as for Jacqeline, come July we will soon see.

The Senior Mens division is always the event to pay attention too, with a stacked field of past World teamers, the racing was going to get nasty! Charlie Bennett of Natural Ability Sports was going to show the entire Senior Mens field that after 6 years of not competing he was going to be a threat. After the heat races, it looked as though Bennett was going to need a little more then his Natural Ability. Back to the drawing board for Bennet as the boys from the Upper East Coast dominated the entire roster of Senior Men. Pat Creveling cruised to a victory over his buddie Kevin Gehman of SOS Speed. The gold medalist at Junior Worlds last year in the 1000m, fell in the 500m semi and may have taken him out of the points for the overall placements. But T to most of us, and with a little luck on his side held on to take 3rd overall.

The Master Mens field was yet another great event to feast your eyes on. Two of the Master Men that placed at Nationals last year were going head to head again. Hypers Jim Larson and The Cajun of EC Beast Jim Borgeious would only meet in the finals. Larson failing to qualify for the 1500m final had to watch in awe as the Cajun went on to a nice 3rd place finish, behind his team mate Bret Donaldson, a newbie just coming up from Classic. John Morton of Highpoint, also a newbie in the Master Mens division, took the top finish for the 1500m and a 30 point lead. The 500m heats were going off on Saturday morning at 6:00am. So time will tell which Master Man will be ready to sprint that early in the morning. The 500m heats started out with a bang and they were charging hard. Larson cruised on to easily qualify for the final, as did Morton and Wood out of Heat 1. Heat 2 qualifiers were, Bourgeious, Bleacher, and Fly of UTV. (To my knowledge). The stage was now set for a repeat of the last years 500m National final. Would Larson be upended by the The Cajun from LC Speed? Larson, now of Capital City Racing in Springfield IL, known for his lightening start and ability to sprint as a Master Man, was about to go head to head in a rematch against Bourgeious. Bret Donaldson failed to qualify for the 500m and had to hope for some help in final placements. Hope in an overall placement for J.L. at his first Gate City Classic appearance, he had to go for the win and take the 30 points. J.B. needed at least a 2nd to lock out the board with a 3 way tie with 30 points to take a podium spot. Anything less for the Cajun Beast would seal his doom for the weekend in the Master Mens division. As the race got under way, Larson first out of the blocks and creating a huge gap on 2nd place, with 2 laps to go Larson could cruise on to yet another 500m victory, with the Cajun coming in a disappointing 3rd place, yet another 10 points and John Morton not placing. Benjamin Bleacher of the Rolling Warriors would take the 2nd place finish and 20 points. With the point spread and Donaldson not in contention for the overall win. This gave Morton, and his new team, Ultimate Speed, the Gate City Classic Master Mens title. Hypers Larson, took the 2nd place overall and rounding out the top 3 was Donaldson, with his 20 points in the long race, edging out the Beast from the East with a third in each distance final. Good Racing guys!

The Fenchtown Senior Two Man, Pat and Chris dominated the field, but not to count out the only Master Man, Hypers Jim Larson running in the Senior 2 Man field. Larsons new teammate for Capital City Racing Kyle Joustra of Mellinnium Skates took control early on in the heat and advancing to the semi final. In a race that seemed to doom the Master man from advancing out of the Semi final. Joustra and Larson had nothing to lose as they were forced to watch the final event. The Creveling Brothers from Frenchtown went on to dominate the entire field of Seniors and take home the gold.

In the Senior 3 Person action the Brothers Creveling added a family member to the mix, their sister Chelsea, as they went on to take home top honors. The Senior 4 Man Relay was going to be an event to take note on as the Frenchtown boys added Ben Carey and Damon Wyatt to round out the team that also went on to be victorious at the Gate City Classic in Greensboro, NC.
Another skater that was out competing that everyone knows, Buggy Allmond of LC Speed was out there running in his first event of the year. He went on to a 2nd place finish in Veteran Men.

I would now like to thank the rink operator Nancy Easter, the officials, the clubs that attended, the spectators, parents and the staff of the Gate City Thanksgiving Classic for hosting a wonderful speed skating event. Hyper Racing will not be missing this event in the future. See you all at the Gate City Classic in 2004 and have a safe and wonderful holiday.

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