By Woodard, Dale on January 24, 2020.
Kaleb Muller is rounding back into form.
Just in time, too.
The 21-year old speedskater from Cranford is headed state-side with the Canadian Long Track Team for the ISU Four Continents Speed Skating Championships Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Milwaukee.
Muller is part of a 15-athlete Canadian contingent which will face-off against top competitors from North America, South America, Asia and Oceania during the first edition of this international competition.
After a blazing start to the season hit a bit of a speed bump last month, Muller – who will compete in the 5,000m race and the team pursuit in Milwaukee – is getting his times back to where he wants them.
“In September it started off great,” said Muller, on the phone from Calgary, where he trains with the National Program, Thursday afternoon. “I was getting personal bests almost every race and then there were a few competitions that were a bit rocky. They weren’t terrible, but they were great. Now, I brought it back in January.
“You’re not always going to be on your personal-best time, but I felt like I could’ve performed better. I feel pretty good right now.”
Muller earned his spot on Team Canada based off the recent Canada Cup 2 in Calgary with the top-three finishers qualifying to go.
Muller finished fourth with a time of 6:26.06, but with the the top three skaters declining their spots on the team to instead focus on the World Championship, the door was open for the local skater to grab a spot.
It won’t be his first international event, having skated at the ISU Junior World Long Track Championship in Salt Lake City in March 2018.
“To represent Canada at an international event, it always feels pretty good,” said Muller, who will be able to draw upon that international experience two years ago.
“It was different, for sure. I’m used to racing the same competitors all the time at every competition. So it was strange, racing different people, but I didn’t let it affect me.”
He expects more of the same in Milwaukee.
“I have no idea who is going to be there,” said Muller. “I’m focused on myself. I’m focused on what I have to do for my race.”
Muller’s personal-best time in the 5,000m is 6:24.26, which he set in Calgary in Sept. 19 last year.
“I never try to focus on placing too much,” he said. “I just try to focus on having a good race and if I do what I need to do I’ll get a good result.”
CBC Sports will have live streaming coverage of the ISU Four Continents Championships from 1:30 to 6:15 p.m., local time, on Jan. 31 and from noon to 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 and 2. The men’s 5,000m race is slated for Jan. 31 just before 3 p.m., local time.
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