Miller Strikes Silver In Sin City

By Greg Miller

Seeking Gold is often the goal in Las Vegas.  Greg Miller and David Swan also had that goal in mind as the the only two Minnesotans competing for Gold in the Las Vegas Inline World Cup held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway the weekend of February 20th through the 22nd, 2015.  No doubt skaters from the North do not have many wheel training opportunities through the Winter coming from the frozen snowy tundra.  Our off season wheel skate training is on hold until the new Vikings stadium is completed.  Despite that Greg and David ventured to Las Vegas along with an international field of champions throughout the globe including superstars such as Bart Swings and Jarrett Paul in addition to top skaters from Columbia, Mexico and Europe.

Olympic Champion Chad Hedrick was the official host of the event which included indoor races early in the week, skating seminars instructed by Chad and outdoor road races Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The outdoor short distance road races were held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on a 500 meter blacktop  loop Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday the marathon was held on the infield race track, a 1.1 mile loop, approximately 24 laps.  The pavement was excellent for all the races.  The marathon race track had a long straightaway on one side with large curves on either end and chicane curves across from the straightaway.  The weather was very good on Friday and Saturday with 75 degree temperatures and winds surging up to 15 mph at times.  Sunday was a different story with a cold front coming in, it felt more like Minnesota as temperatures dropped to 50 degrees and winds surged to 30 mph.  Of course for Miller and Swan, they escaped 10 below zero temperatures back home so not too bad at 50 degrees despite the wind.

Miller and Swan had their own issues to contend with though.  Swan had come down with the flu so he only competed in the marathon on Sunday.  Miller stated, “Swannie is usually right there in every marathon but I think the flu weakened him too much along with that tough wind on the backside.”  Miller had not skated since his knee surgery in October, he explained, “I really didn’t know what to expect only doing gym training with a handful of long track ice sessions at the Roseville Oval with Randy Landucci and Andy Uttke.”  Miller was skating for the Asphalt Beach Skate Team out of Nashville, TN.

The Pro/Elite Masters races included 200m and 5000m on Friday, 1500m on Saturday and the Marathon on Sunday:

In the 200m, Gustavo Arango from Columbia – Gold, Miller – Silver and Olivier Heuze from France – Bronze.

In the 5000m, Ron McKey from Michigan – Gold, Heuze – Silver and Arango – Bronze.

In the 1500m, Heuze – Gold, Miller – Silver and Arango – Bronze.  Miller made a strong move with 600m to go and opened a 20 yard lead but was caught at the line by Heuze.  Miller explained, “With 60 yards to go I looked back to see where everyone was.  Olivier was very strong and just caught me at the line.”

In the Marathon, all the Pro/Elite Masters raced together.  A fairly tight lead pack stuck together most of the race.  Miller and Swan fell off the lead pack after about 7 of the 24 laps fighting the wind on their own.  Miller managed to keep a pace just slightly slower than the lead pack but ended up skating  alone for approximately the last 14 laps.  In the Marathon, Heuze – Gold, Miller – Silver, McKey – Bronze.  Miller explained, “The Marathon course was superb with excellent pavement but the wind was absolutely brutal!”

The highlight of the road races were the Pro/Elite Open races featuring superstars such as Olympic and World Champion Bart Swings.  Miller expressed, “It was really amazing to watch Bart Swings dominate the distance races lapping the chase pack in the Marathon!  I really enjoyed this trip and the fantastic race setting for the Las Vegas Inline World Cup.  I hope we can get many more Minnesotans out here next year. Great hotels and restaurants on the strip.  My wife and I hit the pool several days.  I felt lucky to win three silver medals racing and to win some silver at roulette too!  There is so much to do here, I am sure all the skaters would love it!”