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  • Neal Marshall - Long Track Speed Skating



    Neal Marshall

      Neal Marshall of Coquitlam, B.C., is Canada's best medal bet in long track speed skating. The 1,500 metre specialist has been among the top-three in the world since the 1994-95 season when he became the first Canadian to win an overall World Cup title. He was second overall in both 1995-96 and 1996-97. Last winter he won a silver, a bronze and placed fourth twice on the World Cup and was third at the world championships.
      "I'm totally looking forward to this year," said Marshall, 28, who broke the world record in the men's 1,500 last spring at the Canadian championships shaving three seconds off his personal best time. "It's a confidence boost to know how the last three seasons have gone. Despite that, I realize that when it comes to the Olympics it doesn't matter what's happened in the past. You have to be the best on that day and I want to keep that frame of mind."
      The long track speed skating world is currently undergoing a revolution with the revival of the Klap skate. Most, if not all of the world records, are expected to be lowered at the Nagano Games where the skaters will be in peak condition. The boot on the new Klap skate lifts off the blade. The blade though remains on the ice (somewhat similar to cross country skiing). Like most male skaters Marshall experienced some initial difficulties but showed at the end of last season he was adapting to this modified technology. "It was weird at first," he said. "When you're heavy they are a bit unstable which might be why the guys didn't adapt to them right away."
     s Nagano will be Marshall's third Olympics. He competed in 1992 at Albertville and placed seventh in the 1,500 in 1994 breaking the last national mark held by double Olympic champion Gaetan Boucher. With his Dutch roots it's hardly surprising Marshall and his brothers Kevin-also a national team member- Steve and Mike have enjoyed speed skating success. Their great grandfather Klaas Hanje was a Dutch speed skating champion and uncle Joe Hanje a former Canadian national team member.