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World Skate Oceania Speed Skating Championships

The 2024 World Skate Oceania Speed Skating Championships were this year held in New Zealand with 35 Kiwi skaters and 28 Australian skaters in attendance over Easter weekend. Timaru was host to some of the best speed skaters from both countries, competing on the Banked Track in Caroline Bay followed by the marathon at Levels Raceway.

Two skaters representing the Wellington region’s only active speed skating club, Valley Inline, took part in the championships, both skating in the Open Women’s grade which for the purposes of the event was made up of skaters 19 years and over. Georgia Hurley and Ocean Woolley joined the team of Kiwis and skaters from all parts of Australia who were there to compete and represent their countries.

Hurley (who currently holds all 12 Senior Women’s NZ National titles) was pushed more than once by fellow New Zealander, sprinter Serenity Griffith from Palmerston North. A couple of very close results saw Griffith take gold in the 200k time trial (by 0.069 of a second from Hurley) and the 500m race (by 0.025 of a second). Having collected the silver medals in these two sprints (and a 3rd silver in the women’s relay on the last day), Hurley went on to take gold in the 1,000m race, the 5km points race and the 10km elimination race. Woolley also fought hard and brought home a bronze in the 5km points and a second bronze in the 10km elimination.

After the racing on the Banked Track concluded, the skaters, officials and spectators headed out to Levels Raceway for everyone’s favorite event, the 42k marathon! The weather played ball, being overcast and slightly cool, which made the roughly one-and-a-half-hour skate more bearable than it might have been. Playing it reasonably safe, most of the Open Women’s group skated together for all but the last lap during which it was anyone’s game and the group split as they picked up the pace in the last lap and raced for the line. Shannell Wooding from South Canterbury took the gold in a time of 1 hour 26 minutes, followed very closely by Hurley in second place, with Griffith returning the favour in an extremely close third and Woolley just behind her in fourth.

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Happily, the New Zealand team took out the Harry Kingston Memorial Shield for 2024, winning 32 gold, 31 silver and 27 bronze medals to Australia’s 13, 12 and 18 respectively. Throughout the championships, a good number of “black-out” podiums (NZ 1, 2 and 3) were evident and New Zealand skaters also won the aggregates in five of the seven categories i.e. Cadet Girls, Cadet Boys, Junior Men, Junior Women and Open Women. The Masters Men and Veteran Men aggregates went to the Australian Team.

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