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Hans Schipper edges out Van Benthems at Sylvan Lake races

Dutch marathon skaters active in Alberta

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SYLVAN LAKE, Alberta - Marathon speed skating took centre stage recently, with Dutch visitors taking many prizes at the Spitz Sylvan Lake Ice Marathon. Although not an Ďalternative Elfsteden-tochtí (Eleven cities race) this year - next season it is on the official calendar - the 200 kilometres race attracted quite a number of skaters from the Netherlands. They competed with many Dutch Canadians and with a number of Americans, some of whom also with roots in the Netherlands.

The event included a 50K Open Canadian Marathon Championship for men and women as well. Hans Schipper of Warmond, the Netherlands won that race. He participates in the Dutch marathon circuit as a so-called B-rider. Chelsey Parker of Calgary captured the womenís title.

The main event, the 200K, was held with more favourable weather and ice conditions two days later. Again Schipper was the best of the field. And again he battled to the finish line with the same small group of skaters which had been ahead of the pack as well in the 50K event: three scions of the Van Benthem family.

In both races, Dutchman Henk van Benthem finished second. He is the brother of Evert van Benthem, the two-time winner of the famed Elfstedentocht, and the main organizer of the Sylvan Lake event. The Van Benthems figured prominently in the results. Albertans Rolf and Merein van Benthem finished third and fourth in the 50K race, Dutchman Jaap came in 17th. In the 200K event, Merein placed third, Jaap 8th and Rolf 9th. American Andy Dahlstrom came in fourth, narrowly edged out in the 50K event by Schipper and the three van Benthems.

Other prominent Dutch skaters in the Sylvan Lake marathon included former marathon riders Jan-Roelof Kruithof and Henk Portengen.

Record challenge Angenent

The most recent Elstedentocht winner Henk Angenent (1997) travelled to Alberta as well. He did not participate in his pre-decessor Van Benthemís marathon, but came to prepare himself for a world record challenge.

Angenent, who hopes to participate as a 10K skater in the 2006 Winter Olympics, has set his immediate sight on the World Hour Record. He has opted for the fast Olympic Oval in Calgary to skate a better distance than Italian former World Champion Roberto Sighel had done in 1997. Among Angenentís team of (temporary) coaches is Evert van Benthem.

For more information on the World Hour Record attempt, see the Community Calendar elsewhere in this publication.