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Ochowicz wins two races at worlds qualifier

10/19/2006

WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Elli Ochowicz won the 500- and 1,000-meter speedskating races Thursday at the Fall World Cup Qualifier.

Ochowicz, of Waukesha, Wis., won the 500 in 40.47 seconds and the 1,000 in 1 minute, 21.14 seconds on the first of four days of competition to select U.S. long track teams that will compete in World Cup events.

The races run through Sunday at the Pettit National Ice Center.

Tucker Fredricks of Janesville, Wis., won the men's 500 in 35.74 and Kip Carpenter, a bronze medalist at the 2002 Winter Olympics, took the 1,000 in 1:11.23.

The long track team is coming off a disappointing 2006 Torino Games in which the men captured seven medals and women failed to win one. The team also needs to rebuild because former medalists Casey FitzRandolph and Derek Parra have retired and former medal winner Jennifer Rodriguez quit to compete in cycling. Joey Cheek, who won gold (500) and silver (1,000) in Italy, is attending college.

Long track coach Ryan Shimabukuro, one of the few holdovers in U.S. speedskating after a system-wide shakeup following the Olympics, knows it will be tough to turn the program around.

"It's challenging and frustrating at the same time," Shimabukuro said. "But I think we have some skaters who have been kind of bubbling up to the surface the last few years and now have a chance to push to the forefront and show us what they've got."

Rebekah Bradford of Apple Valley, Minn., was second in the women's 500 in 41.32 and Catherine Raney of Elm Grove, Wis., captured second in the 1,000 in 1:22.18. Carpenter also finished second in the 500 in 36.36 and Christopher Needham of Belmont, Mass., came in second in the 1,000 in 1:11.77.