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Day 2: Indian team skating trials

Junior boys' point to point start
Junior boys' point to point start

Morning Session

The day was supposed to start at 6 am but as a result of many small delays, it only began at 7:15. The junior girls began with the 200m time trials. Unfortunately for some skaters, because the laser timer device did not work properly, they had to skate the time trial twice.

Musckaan Chauhan won the event with a time of 19.77 seconds followed by Shivani Shetty of Maharashtra, who finished with a time of 19.90 seconds.

The junior boys were next, where Dhanush Babu destroyed the previous national record with a time of 16.91 seconds. Hariharan Kandhaswamy of Tamil Nadu took second place with a time of 16.99 seconds.

The senior girls’ race was won again by Aarathy Kasturiraj with a time of 19.88 seconds while Varsha Puranik came second finishing with a time of 20.65 seconds.

The senior men’s race was won by Akash Aradhya who put up a time of 16.92 seconds, with Nikhilesh Tabhane finishing second with a time of 17.13 seconds.

The heats for the 500m races were next. Since it was a 500m race, there was a rule saying that there could only be four skaters on the line in the final. All the other categories posed no problem but the junior boys’ heats were full of controversy. In the second semi-final, Prithviraj Deshmukh and Abdul Zaheer Khan were involved in a photo finish for second place behind Hariharan. After watching a video replay of the race, the officials declared that Prithviraj had edged ahead of Zaheer, and so would compete in the final.

However, Zaheer came forward with evidence showing the finish from a different angle, where it appeared he had beaten Prithviraj. After long deliberation, the officials finally ruled that instead of four people in the final, there would be five skaters, so that both Prithviraj and Zaheer could participate in the race.

In the meantime, the junior girls’ race was won again by Musckaan Chuhan followed by Shivani Shetty. The senior men’s race was won by Pratheek Raja, the returning champion who had a major injury two years ago, and has made his comeback this year. Nikhilesh Tabhane came second in the same race.

The senior women’s race finished predictably with Aarathy taking first place and Varsha taking second.

Finally, it was time for the junior boys’ race. That began slowly but with about 200 metres to go, Dhanush Babu sprinted off, closely followed by Akash Raju. The race finished with Dhanush in first place,  Prithviraj in second and Akash Raju in third.

Evening session

The evening races were the 10 km or 50 lap point-to-point races. What this means is that in every point lap (signified by a bell), the skater finishing the lap first is awarded two points, while the skater finishing the lap second is awarded one point. At the end of the race, total points are accumulated and a winner is announced.

The senior girls went first and Aarathy won, followed by Barkha Parmar in an uneventful race.

Next up were the senior men in which Vikram Ingale broke away from the group and gathered enough points to win the race comfortably. Unfortunately two skaters - Sathya Murthy and Vikram B.J. - fell, with Akash Aradhya managing to secure second place.

The junior girls were next. The race began predictably but because of two breakaway attempts by Musckaan Chauhan, the group diminished in size until there were only three skaters left. Simran Josan of Haryana ran an impressive race to finish first with 49 points followed by Musckaan Chauhan with 40 points.

Once again it was time for the much awaited junior boys’ point-to-point. The race was characterized by multiple attempts at breakaways, most of which were neutralized by the pack. However, in the second half of the race Aashish pulled off a successful breakaway which he was able to sustain long enough to collect enough points for a second place finish. Tejeshwar secured his second first place position in what was an impressive race to say the least.

Tomorrow morning’s events will feature the road point-to-point races which are scheduled to begin at 6 in the morning.

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