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Jessica Gregg-An experience I'll never forget

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.

My team and I are now in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, for the world team championships. Last weekend, we competed in the world championships in Vienna. It was my first time competing in the worlds individually and I reached every one of my goals, including our team goal of earning a medal in the relay.

Last year I only skated the relay at this competition, winning a bronze medal. That was very exciting, but sitting in the stands and watching all the other girls skate each distance individually really motivated me to get a spot on the racing team for this year.

After winning the gold medal in the 500 metres at a World Cup meet in Sofia not too long ago, I knew I had another shot at being on the podium. But this competition is an overall classification as well, so I was skating not just the 500 but the 1500 and 1000 as well.

Seeing as how it's not my specialty, I thought I skated well in the 1500, and was really happy to make the semifinal round in the 1000. I was also able to get on the podium in the 500, skating some personal-best times in some of the rounds before the final.

Having raced a final, I had enough points to be in the 3000 final, a distance that is only skated at this competition and team worlds. Being a sprinter, I knew it would be a tough race so I went out and gave it my best, knowing that I was skating the relay right after. I finished in sixth place overall, a result I was not expecting and am very happy about!

The girls and I were really excited to skate the relay. Like most of the World Cups this year, the final came down to us, the U.S., China and Korea. We got off to a good start, and were comfortably in second place. A couple exchanges later the Koreans passed us and it became a race between them and China for gold, with our team and the Americans racing for bronze. Going into the last exchange we were still in third, with the Americans right behind us. Kalyna Roberge, finishing for our team, did an excellent job holding off the Americans for third place.

Seeing Vienna

I am really happy with how I skated, and with our team winning the bronze, but I was also really impressed with our whole Canadian team. Short track is a hard sport because it's an individual sport but also has many team aspects such as the relay. We go from competing against each other at our national trials to coming together as a team to compete against other countries. But this weekend we really came together and everyone was really supportive.

Speaking of support, my parents, uncle, auntie and three cousins were in the Netherlands to take a vacation and watch me and the team skate. Competing in a foreign country, it was really nice to have them there in the stands waving their Canadian flags and cheering us on!

We always travel to a competition a week before the races start, so we were lucky enough to do a bit of sightseeing while staying in Vienna. The first day we got there we took the train downtown and walked around to get over our jet lag and sight-see. After that we met up with the rest of our team and went for dinner at a really neat restaurant. It was an old torture chamber (we think) and our table was about five floors underground! One afternoon we had some time off and I got to ride in a horse carriage with my family through downtown Vienna.

That’s one of the reasons I love skating so much. You not only get to race, but you also get to travel around the world and experience different cultures at the same time. Vienna is one of the nicest cities I've been to on a speedskating trip, but it's also interesting to go to places that are less visited to get a different perspective of the world. My first time traveling over to Europe, we went to Serbia, and it was definitely eye-opening for me.

An experience I will never forget, just like Vienna.

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