Published: June 20, 2013
The heyday may be over but there is ample reason for inline speedskater Norm Kirby to compete in this weekend's national outdoor championships.
The Colorado Springs resident expects to put his name in the national record books again now that he is competing in the 45-54 masters division.
"This is for bragging rights and getting your name in the record books keeps your sponsors happy," he said recently at Memorial Park, one of two sites for the championships Saturday to Thursday.
They have had good reason to be pleased. The Bont team professional set American 5K records in both the banked track (8 minutes, 17.138 seconds) and road course (7:40.593) in 2012 for the master men's 35-44 division. Those times are well under the older division records. He also holds the 1,500 banked record, set in 2008, in the 35-44 class.
"I am sure there are some feathers being ruffled by me moving up a division. I felt the same way as the old guy in my former division," he said. "With the times I have, I am feeling pretty confident."
The younger competitors are competing for a spot on the U.S. juvenile, junior and senior teams for the 2013 world inline speed skating championships. They will compete in distances ranging from 200 to 10,000 meters for the banked track events at the Memorial Park velodrome and the road course races at Pikes Peak International Raceway.
Some of the notables competing include 2012 USA Roller Sports Speedskating Athlete of the Year Justin Stelly and 2012 USOC Female Athlete of the Year Erin Jackson.
Kirby was a world-class speedskater before a broken ankle in 1998 slowed him to the point where he was a top-10 competitor but was no longer a regular on the medals podium.
Kirby started skating as a child at Skate City and rode the sudden popularity of inline sports in the 1990s to professional contracts, TV commercial appearances and travel around the world.
The TV exposure dipped since the sport is not in the Olympics and several of its brightest stars, such as Derek Parra, left to compete in ice speedskating. Pro sponsors became fewer.
But that is the past. Since the injury, he works the overnight shift at UPS, which allows him a flexible schedule for training and competition. He loves the sport and will compete as long as he can.
"It keeps me young," Kirby said.