Jessica Gregg - Inside the performance of a lifetime
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 | 12:57 AM ET
Jessica won her first ever World Cup gold medal in 500m short track speedskating in February 2009. Jessica comes from a strong pedigree of skaters as he mother was a two-Olympian in the sport and her father Dr. Randy Gregg was a member of the Oilers dynasty in the 1980's.
A couple weekends ago I won my first individual World Cup gold medal — in the 500 metres, my favourite race. I went into the weekend hoping to do really well as it was my last World Cup before the world championships in March. I wasn't feeling that great in training the week before the competition, but with the help of my coach, Jon, I was ready by the time the races came in Bulgaria.
The first two rounds on Friday went really well. I got out in front and won them both with fairly fast times. It wasn’t until Sunday, though, that the excitement really started to kick in.
If you make it to the final round, you have a total of three more races. My first race played out like the first two on Friday but my second one had a little more action. Due to skating a fast time in the first round, I received first position on the line, something very important in the 500.
The defending world champion, Meng Wang, was on my right, second on the line. I knew if I had a good start and stuck right with her I would have a really good chance of being in the final. Trying not to underestimate myself, though, I knew I had to try for that first position going into the corner and try to beat her for the first time.
The gun went off and I had a really good jump right from the start. Neck and neck with Meng, I was focusing on the first puck when I realized she had "toed in" and fallen down. My first thought was that they were going to call the race back, but since she had fallen on her own, and didn’t interfere with another skater, I realized quickly that wasn’t going to happen. So I attacked that first corner as hard as I could. I ended up skating very close to my personal best time, a time I had only come close to once before.
The race was over before I knew it. The Italian skater and I had finished 1-2 and Meng was not going to be in the A final. The very first thought that crossed my mind was, "Finally, another girl will get to be on top of the podium for once." The second thought was, "Hey, that could be me!"
Eyes turning to 2010
Having skated the fastest time in the semis, I had first position on the line again, with teammate Kalyna Roberge in the third position. Having skated enough A finals in the past, I was more excited than nervous. The game plan was still the same — get off to a good start, go after some speed and skate smart near the end.
I got off to a good start but unfortunately Kalyna was pushed down going into the first corner and the race was not called back. Comfortably in the lead, I knew that if I stayed on my feet I could cross the finish line first. Keeping some good speed I was able to hold off the other two girls.
Crossing the line I had a big smile on my face, and as I glided around and saw the look on Jon’s face I felt like the last couple of months had really paid off and all the frustrating times were worth it in the end, as they usually are! Another half lap later I passed by my dad, Randy Gregg, who was rinkside as he was our team doctor for this World Cup. He also had a big smile on his face.
Winning a gold medal was a big accomplishment, but being able to share it with people who have been there for me the whole time made it that much sweeter!
Knowing what it feels like to be on top of the podium at the World Cup has only fueled my desire to do it again in Vancouver in 2010.
We leave soon for the worlds in Vienna, and after that we get only a couple weeks off before starting the buildup for the Olympic trials in August. It won’t feel like much of an off-season, but with the opportunity of a lifetime ahead, I think it
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