Kearns • There wasn't that elated feeling that Maria Lamb bested the best long-track speedskaters in the country both times she was crowned the all-around champion at the U.S. Long-Track Speedskating Championships.
Most of the top competition wasn't even there to be defeated each time.
This year was different.
Lamb won her third U.S. all-around women's long-track title Monday morning at the Utah Olympic Oval, winning the women's 5,000-meter race and sealing another national championship.
"It's kind of the first time I really feel like I actually won it," she said.
Lamb's 5,000-meter time of 7 minutes, 10.34 seconds was more than 10 seconds ahead of second-place Petra Acker (7:20.58) and third place Jilleanne Rookard (7:20.21). The final race during the five-day national championships in Kearns features 12.5 laps, but as Lamb explained, she enjoys the punishment.
"Maybe I'm a little bit crazy because most people don't like it as much," she said. "It's the race that comes most naturally to me. It hurts a lot."
The women's national crown is determined by combined points from the skater's best 500-meter race as well as the 1,500-meter, 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter races. Lamb finished with a combined point total of 166.901, while Rookard (167.021) finished second in the all around and Acker (168.451) third.
Lamb, a 26-year-old from River Falls, Wis., said her third U.S. title was sweet due to the fact she beat some quality teammates in Rookard and Acker, as well as powered through the mental game of skating strong for more than seven minutes in the final race.
"You've really got to fight through all of that, and I think I like testing myself against the pain and against the race," she said. "To me, that's fun."
Twenty-two-year-old Jonathan Kuck won the men's all-around title after emerging victorious in the grueling 10,000-meter race Monday morning.
"You've just got to relax in the beginning and skate your race," he said.
His time of 13:15.27 was nearly 11 seconds faster than second-place Patrick Meek's 13:26.06. Sixteen-year-old up-and-comer Emery Lehman finished third, breaking a U.S. junior national record with a time of 13:29.68.
The men's all-around championship is determined by combined points from a skater's best 500-meter race along with the 1,500-meter, 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter competitions. Kuck's U.S. crown is his first, while Lehman came in second overall in the all-around, with Meek finishing third.
While it was a big step in his young career, Kuck, a Champaign, Ill., native, said a national title isn't something he will croon over in the coming days. He has bigger fish to fry, such as the upcoming winter World Cup circuit.
"It's exciting," he said, "but you have to not get too excited about it. You have to focus on what's upcoming."
U.S. Long-Track Speedskating Championships
Women's 5,000 meters
1. Maria Lamb 7:10.34
2. Petra Acker 7:20.58
3. Jilleanne Rookard 7:20.21
1. Maria Lamb
2. Jilleanne Rookard
3. Petra Acker
1. Jonathan Kuck 13:15.27
2. Patrick Meek 13:26.06
3. Emery Lehman 12:29.68
1. Jonathan Kuck
2. Emery Lehman
3. Patrick Meek
U.S. Winter World Cup Men
World Sprint Championships Team