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Euroskate 2003 in Padova Italy
European Inline Speed Skating Championships

Euroskate 2003 Logo
Report by Bobby Piedra

National teams from over 16 countries participated in the 2003 European Inline Speed Skating Championships July 26 through August 2 in Padova, Italy.

Banked Track Events
The track events were skated on a 200 meter track just outside of the city of Padova, and the Italians dominated most events. Valentina Belloni won the 300m in 28.52, and Gregorio Dugento won the 300m in 26.23. The most exciting races were the elimination and relay events. There was a big upset during the 5k menís relay, Italy broke away from the field with 8 laps to go. They gained 1/3 of a lap on the field when Massimiliano Presti was blocked by another skater during his pushoff, and France gained a sizable lead on Italy. Italy chased and chased, the crows went wild, but at the line it was France who won.

Flat Track Events
The road events were skated on a newly paved 650m oval sorrounding a historic park in the center of Padova. Valentina Belloni and Claudio Lombardi of Italy won the 500m with respective times of 45.15 and 39.78. New York Empirespeed member, Helen Havam skating for Estonia, placed fourth in the 500m with a time of 45.76. In the menís 20k elimination, Luca Presti and Massimiliano Presti won for Italy, and Franceís Franck Cardin and Arnaud Gicquel finished 4th and 5th.

The Marathon
Finally the big day arrived: Saturday and the Marathon. The marathon course involved skating from the start through the streets of Abano to a 7k loop, 4.5 laps of the loop, and 6 kilometers into a right hand turn just 1000m from the finish in the center of the town of Abano.

Women's Marathon
The women skated first and the pace was fast, after 10k 2 were off the back and three were out of the race. Every lap of the loop we saw more skaters dropping off the back and taking off their skates. Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland had large teams of skaters competing and taking turns controlling the pack. Coming out of the last lap and heading into the last turn Italy took control of the pack and others scrambled to get into position for the end sprint. As they came across the line it was Alessandra Susmeli of Italy with the win in a time of 1:10.43. Italy placed six women in the top ten, with Germany, Switzerland and France also placing. Estoniaís Helen Havam squeezed into the end sprint and managed to place 13th.

Men's Marathon
The menís marathon was equally exciting. They started in a parking lot, made a sharp left hand turn and 83 skaters were off down the narrow road as far as the eye could see. We got on our bikes and took a short cut to the watering area of the 7k loop, a popular viewing area. The sun was hot, the asphalt sticky and the pack was flying. As they came by through the first loop, we could see skaters off the back gasping for air. With 12k to go, four skaters went on a flyer, but the aggressive pack soon caught them. At 38 kilometers, Roger Schneider of Switzerland and Franck Cardin of France took off on a flyer and the pack chased unsuccessfully. With 1.5k to the finish, Schneider broke from Cardin and skated solo to the line with a winning time of 58.174. During his last kilometer, behind the barricades, people cheered, screamed and hollored with excitement as he took the win. Fifty-nine skaters finished the marathon with Italy, France, Holland, Spain, and Germany rounding out the top ten.

Wrap-Up Party and Full Results
That evening Team Italy hosted a catered party at their hotel. Most skaters attended, relaxed and enjoyed some delicious food and a little drink. By then everyone was in a party mood and with the help of excellent wines and beers, many stories and versions of the days events were exchanged. In all aspects, this was a five star event. Full results are available at Euroskate.it.
~ by Bobby Piedra

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