SPEED SKATING: Krystina Davies is moving very rapidly, so rapidly she might ? at the age of 42 ? find herself matching skates with the best at next year's world championships in China.
It's a remarkable story, because Davies was an artistic skater cleaned up at the New Zealand championships in 1978, who later retired for 20 years and had three children ? and then became a reborn speed skater because she became the partner of the man she used to practice with when she was 12 and he was 13.
Since then (in 2001), Davies has sped her way towards the top in New Zealand women's speedskating, now probably only behind New Zealand's recent triple world bronze medallist Nicole Begg.
Her partner and coach, Gary Clark, believes as many as six New Zealand women may travel to China, but if there are only a couple, Davies is likely to go with Begg.
The big days for Davies include the national marathon around Palmerston North's Square on Labour Weekend, the Speed King Tour around Upper Hutt, the national championships in Auckland early in January, the banked track nationals in Christchurch and then the Oceania Games on Australia's Gold Coast in April.
"By then," Davies said, "the selectors will know whom they want to go to the worlds."
Indeed they should, and they must be looking very closely at Davies, who's original aim as a speed skater was to compete in the Masters grade.
Clark says she was so good so quickly ? 13 New Zealand Masters titles and 10 Australian Masters wins in 2002, and five individual Ocean Games Masters titles in 2003, "that I switched her from the Masters to the senior ladies. She was unchallenged in Masters and she was lapping the Australians and chewing them up."
She won a silver and bronze medals at the 2004 nationals, and then suffered a severe ligament injury when training for the Oceanias, hitting a wall in Wanganui's Jubilee Stadium when trying to avoid another skater and ripping the ligament.
That was in April and the area championships in New Plymouth last weekend was finally her comeback after a long repatriation ? and she won three golds.
The Davies-Clark story is interesting: "We used to train together when we were about 12," Davies said. "He was a speed skater, I was an artistic one ? there was a rule out that we were not allowed to be down at the rink on your own. "I'd use the middle of the rink and he would train on his speed around the outside," Davies said.
"I gave up skating then, but I met up with him again much later. My skates were deep in the closet, but he talked me into coming down and having a go for something to do. "Once you have the skating bug, you've always go it."
Davies dominated the women's field, winning all three events with ease. Melissa White (15) handled the concrete surface well to pick up three silvers in the intermediate ladies grade. Hamish Clark (14), who was favoured to win the junior boys' grade, found the conditions difficult and had to settle for silver behind Anthony Hazelwood from Upper Hutt. Ten-year-old Renee Nyman also found the concrete surface demanding and settled for silvers in the juvenile girls grade. Newcomer Liam Purcell impressed with silvers in all three primary boys events. The masters men skated on quads. It was the first time that the old-style four-wheel skates had been used at a speed event for over a decade. Sixty-eight-year-old Peter Hawksworth picked up the silvers, with the golds going to team coach Gary Clark.