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    Wednesday, December 10, 1997

    Olympic dream in Ivey's sights

    By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
      Canada's speed skaters are poised for a major breakthrough at the Nagano Olympics.
     And an up-and-comer from the Ottawa Valley just might get a chance to share the flame -- and the excitement.
     Up until a few weeks ago, the Olympic Games remained a distant goal for Jamie Ivey. But, with a couple of dream spins around the blazing-fast Olympic Oval in Calgary, the 21-year-old from Richmond has given himself at least a chance to be on the plane to Japan in early February.
     Ivey gets his chance Dec. 27-30 in Calgary, when the Canadian Olympic speed-skating trials are held. The Gloucester Concordes competitor got the times he needed at a meet at the Oval last weekend to qualify for the trials in the 1,000 and 1,500 metres. He beat the 1,500 standard of 1:54.5 minutes twice, clocking 1:52.1 and 1:52.2 to earn the trials invite.
     On the final day of the meet, Ivey went under the trials standard of 1:13.58 in the 1,000 metres. He clocked 1:12.90 -- hot stuff, considering it's the first 1,000 he's skated since moving to Calgary to train 21/2 years ago.
     "I had to skate some pretty extreme times to (make the trials)," he said earlier this week from his Calgary apartment, a stone's throw away from the Oval. "I'm pretty happy about it, and so are my parents (Jim and Jackie)."
     Kristina Groves of Ottawa, who moved west about the same time as Ivey, also has reason to be thrilled. Groves, a national teamer since winning the Canada Cup series last season, made it to the trials in the women's 1,500 metres.
     Ivey, who wound up one spot off the five-skater national team after last season, figures his best shot at getting to Nagano will come in the 1,500. He doesn't regard himself as a sprinter, and Canada has five 1,000-metre skaters ranked in the top 12 in the world. Only four get to go to the Olympics.
     Another Canadian, Kevin Overland of Kitchener, is the world-record holder in the 1,500 at 1:49.07. Ivey figures he'll have to cut his time by another two seconds to get into the hunt for an Olympic berth.
     "I'm capable of being (around) 1:50, but I'm going to have to shoot for 1:49," he said. "I have to shoot for whatever I think the (qualifying time) is going to be."
     Three 1,500 berths will be decided on Dec. 30, the last day of the trials. A skate-off the following weekend between skaters who've made the Olympic standard time twice -- Ivey's among that group -- determines the final position. So he's got two cracks at making the Olympic squad.
     Though there's a golden opportunity within reach, Ivey admits it's hardly his one and only shot at the Olympics. In his mind, he's still just getting started.
     "It's been pretty much proven that your peak age in speed skating is your early 30s," said Ivey, who figures he's got another eight years to put into the sport. "And I'd hate to quit on a sport before I've reached my physical peak."
     "I don't think I need to get upset if things don't turn out the right way for me (at the trials). I've more than accomplished what I needed to accomplish this year, but I can't stop there -- I need to keep accomplishing even more.
     "But no, it definitely won't be the end of the world if I don't make it (to Nagano)."
     He's got a shot, though. And that alone is exciting enough, indeed.