The Fort St. John Elks Speed Skating Club hosted a long track interclub meet on Saturday, Dec. 15, welcoming clubs from Dawson Creek, Grande Prairie and Prince George to the Pomeroy Sport Centre.
Five divisions hit the indoor oval on Saturday to compete in races varying from 100 to 3,000 m distances, and topping each division were Fort St. John skaters of all ages.
“It was a nice day for them and everybody skated really well and we’re happy with that,” said Elks coach Richard Stickel. “We’ve seen some really good skates and some really good times from the kids.”
“One thing we’re trying to do, especially with our 12 to 14-year-old kids, is do that 3,000 at the end of the day because there are so few chances for them to compete in that. If you go to a Canada Cup or a big meet you have to meet a time standard, and it’s hard to do a time standard if you don’t race it, and so just getting that experience and trying to do that in a competition was really one of the big things we wanted to do, so that was really good for us.”
Even though the flu and a blizzard in Prince George meant 15 to 20 regional skaters couldn’t attend, Stickel said the interclub had a good showing and was a good preparation for the long track provincials that the Elks will host in January.
Elks skater Connor Johnson topped Division 1 with 121.2 points overall, winning the 3,000-m race in a time of 4:42.57. Jacob Graham, who won both the 500 m and 1,000 m races, did not skate the 3,000 m to put him last in overall points.
Second and third place in Division 1 went to Prince George skaters Rylan Gaudet and Carolina Hiller, while Dawson Creek’s Pauline Sutherland took fourth place with 133.9 points overall.
Elks Colton Johnson (90.7) and Sarah Graham (92.6) finished first and second in Division 2 while Dawson Creek’s Hannah Brunn finished fourth overall with 94.6 points, only 0.2 points off from third place, which went to Fort St. John’s Rachel Kalkman.
Division 3’s top three speed skaters were Fort St. John’s Ryan Potgieter, Brett Weber and Jordy Weber while Elks’ Yuna Lovell came first in Division 4 with 3,000 points after finishing first in the 200, 300 and 400 m finals. Joshua Telizyn finished second with 2,448 points.
Mickey Brody came first in Division 5 with 2,666 points and two first-place finishes in the 100 and 200 m finals.
“We had some really good skates from a whole bunch of skaters,” Stickel said. “Yuna Lovell, she’s amazing, she’s such a good skater.”
“Josh Telizyn skated well, too,” he added. “There’s a whole group that are so good at that age, they’re just amazing. Renee Kalkman continues to do well, Theresa Martins as well. There are so many good young skaters right now that have so much potential that it’s really exciting for our club right now. You can see this kids making big jumps all over the place.”
Stickel added that the club is trying to prepare for the Canada Winter Games as well as the long track provincials and the Canada Cup #2 by getting its younger skaters used to the longer races, which can surprise even the most experienced speed skaters like Denny Morrison from time to time.
“It’s a hard race, you’re going to be exhausted at the end,” Stickel said about the 3,000. “For the most part they did really well, though.”
Fort St. John’s Jamie Lee also had a good weekend in Drummondville, Quebec when she finished 19th at the 2012 National Short Track Qualifier. Only the top 32 finishes qualified to compete at the Canadian Open Championships.
“She did really well,” Stickel said. “It’s huge for her age. She’s only 16.”
Lee’s top performances at the qualifier were her 1,000 m (fourth, 2:14:93), her 500 m (second, 0:47.90) and her 1,500 m (fifth, 2:33.92).
She finished with a total of 118 points.