Monday, November 24, 1997
Jansen expects records at NaganoNAGANO, Japan (AP) -- A good speedskating track and the introduction of faster new skates will make next year's Winter Olympics a prime setting for world records, 1994 gold medalist Dan Jansen said Monday.
"It's magnificent, it's spectacular," Jansen said during a tour of the 10,000-seat M-Wave, the new indoor facility for the Olympic speedskating races.
Jansen, winner of the 1,000 meters at Lillehammer in 1994, will provide commentary for CBS during the Feb. 7-22 games.
Jansen said the Nagano track, completed late last year, reminded him of the stadium at Lillehammer, where he skated a victory lap carrying his oldest daughter in his arms. The daughter is named for his sister, Jane Beres, who died of leukemia just ours before Jansen competed in the 500-meter race at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.
"I'm impressed," he said, looking up at its 141-foot-high pine roof. "I wish I could go out and skate now."
Jansen expects the times to be generally faster at the Nagano Games because most of the competitors will be using "clap skates," whose blades detach from the heel. The increased contact with the ice surface tends to give a skater more speed.
"The world records are already tumbling," he said.
But he said the conversion to the skates has been slower for some of the world's best skaters, who already have reached the top and have less to gain by switching.
"Mediocre to good skaters are helped more than the best skaters," he said.
Jansen expects Japanese men to dominate the sprint races and the Dutch to lead in the distance races. In women's competition, he said, Germany and Canada will be the countries to beat.
He said the United States has medal possibilities in four skaters -- Chris Witty of West Allis, Wis., and Kirsten Holum of Waukesha, Minn., in women's races, and KC Boutiette of Tacoma, Wash., and Casey FitzRandolph of Verona, Wis., in men's.
Jansen said he misses being in the competition.
"I miss walking in new arenas, I miss thinking about the next Olympics coming up," he said. "But I'm ready to move on."