Olympic Speed Skating Trials : Mary Docter Earns Spot on U.S. Team

Associated Press

Mary Docter, who gave up speed skating after consecutive sixth-place finishes in the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympics, won a spot on the 1988 team Saturday night.

Docter, who was working in a Madison, Wis., restaurant, began training seriously only one month ago but skated to a first-place finish in the 3,000 meters in 4 minutes 45.02 seconds.

"I don't know what I'm going to do, but now I'm psyched up to see what I can do," Docter said.

Docter said she left the sport after the 1984 Games a bitter athlete because she didn't succeed after years of training.

But she became interested again when a customer in the restaurant recognized her and began asking her why she wasn't skating.

"I had a lot of free time and I needed the sport because I wasn't doing anything with my life," said the 26-year-old Docter, who was also coaching a youth team in Madison.

As the time trials rolled through their fifth night in a steady rain, Bonnie Blair continued her domination of the women's division.

On the men's side, Erik Henriksen, 29, of Champaign, Ill., clinched a spot on his third straight Olympic team by winning the men's final 500-meter trial in 38.53 seconds.

Blair of Champaign, Ill., took the women's 500 meters in 42.30 seconds and now has won all four 500-meter trials, both 1,500-meter trials and one 1,000-meter trial. She will skate one more race, the third and final 1,000 meters, today.

Blair will skate three events at Calgary, Canada, Feb. 13-28--the 500, 1,000 and 1,500.

"In the last ('84) trials, I was working on making the team. This time, I basically knew I could be on the team," Blair said.

"My thoughts and efforts are going toward February and not worrying so much about this time."

Also qualifying to make the women's 500-meter team were Kristen Talbot of Schuylerville, N.Y.; Peggy Clasen of Roseville, Minn., and Leslie Bader of Bridgeport, Conn., who has the fifth spot as an alternate. Katie Class, who finished second in the 500-meter point standings, already had an exemption to make the team.

Also qualifying to make the men's team were Tom Cushman of Roseville, Minn., and Marty Pierce of Milwaukee.

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