Blades Flash at Competition in Santa Clarita

by Trevor Morgan - The Signal Santa Clarita Valley

Skaters from as far as Colorado and Oregon competed in the Western States Speed Skating Championships at The Cube Ice and Entertainment center on June 26, 2022.  

The race featured four events, with nine groups each, and offered a variety of lengths, which altered strategy for each. The 1000m races required pacing, while the shorter 500m and 278m races were all out sprints. The competition also featured a 3000m Relay race. 

There were several crashes and slips, especially on the faster races, but no injuries were reported.  

Ron Halcrow, President of the Santa Clarita Speed Skating Club, said that he thinks everyone had a blast and that the out-of-state skaters really gave local skaters a run for their money. Halcrow explained why competing against skaters that aren’t from your area was important. 

It’s the practice of competing against people that you’ve never skated against. I grew up with a skater called Bonnie Blair and she always took the attitude that every little meet like this [was] as big as the Olympics,” said Halcrow. “So when she skated against skaters from other states, she learned that, when she got to the Olympics, skating against skaters from other countries was just an everyday event and she became a multi-gold medalist in the Olympics.”  

Skaters were divided up into groups based on skill level, weight and height, which made for some interesting matchups as they were generally not organized by age. One race featured a 71-year-old skater versus a 14-year-old skater of the same height and weight. The race was extremely close.  

One of the local racers, Alex Khuong-Gagnon, won second place in his group and said he was initially intimidated by the older racers he was going up against. He was especially worried about Juice Ortiz (Colorado) whom Khuong-Gagnon had faced previously in national competition.  

He was going pretty fast, so I was scared,” said Khuong-Gagnon. “And Rahul (Janga), I heard he was pretty fast as well. So yeah, I was pretty intimidated.” Janga (Northern California) ended up winning first place in the group and Ortiz took home third.  

During the awards ceremony, Halcrow said Khuong-Gagnon and Janga “
could be Olympians” one day.  

I mean, that was pretty high praise for me, like I usually don’t get that,” said Khuong-Gagnon. “So I was pretty happy that he said that. But I mean, right now, I’m still trying to be like a National Champion. I haven’t done really well in Nationals. So I think maybe in the future if I do get better, maybe I could become an Olympian.” 

The results of the races are as follows and are organized by group and race lengths (meters): 

Group 1 

(500, 1000, 1500) 

1st / Rahul Janga / Northern California 

2nd / Alex Khuong-Gagnon / Southern California 

3rd / Juice Ortiz / Colorado 

Group 2 

(500, 1000, 1500) 

1st / Jatier Salter / Arizona 

2nd / Rishi Janga / Northern California 

3rd / Lance Shafer / Arizona 

Group 3 

(500, 1000, 1500) 

1st / Alex Katz / Southern California 

2nd / Margaret Yang / Northern California 

3rd / Hankyu Koo / Northern California 

Group 5  

(500, 777, 1000) 

1st / Roger Ji / Arizona 

2nd / Sunkyo Koo / Northern California 

3rd / Marianna Ludwig / Arizona 

Group 6  

(500, 777, 1000) 

1st / Robert Allison / Southern California 

2nd / Elissa Taylor / Southern California 

3rd / Jim Storm / Southern California 

Group 7  

(Junior group, measured by lap) 

1st / Finnegan Beall / Arizona 

2nd / Zeen Zhou / Southern California 

3rd / Elliot Lee / Southern California  

Group 8

(222, 278, 444, 500) 

1st / Minkyu Koo / Northern California 

2nd / Malachi Hale / Arizona 


Group 9

1st / Joni Steshko



1st / Team 1 (Juice Ortiz, Angeline Shy, Robert Allison) 

Teams 2 and 3 were disqualified for interference and an illegal relay. 

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