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Fort St. John Elks receive four provincial speed skating awards

Club of the Year, Coach of the Year, and junior boys and girls long-track
Fort St. John Elks speedskater Matthew Mitchell is the B.C. junior boys long-track award winner.

B.C.’s speed skating community has recognized the great work being done by the Fort St. John Elks program, naming it Club of the Year and handing out three more individual awards in the process.

Former blader, now senior coach Desiree Lillico was thrilled to be chosen as provincial coach of the year.

“I speed skated most of my childhood until I graduated. I then went off to university to pursue my career. When I moved back to Fort St. John I stepped back in with the club,” said Lillico. “Started coaching just a couple of days a week for them, and it’s slowly progressed from there. It’s been great to dip my toes back in the sport again and be involved.”

Junior skater Sidney Bennie, named the provincial junior female long-track skater of the year, was surprised to receive the recognition.

“I had no idea I was being nominated,” said Bennie, in hearing the news May 14, but her accomplishments this past season, likely, behind her award.

“This year I was able to skate my first 5K as a junior and I actually got the track record (8 minutes, 48.52 seconds) here in Fort St. John. I’ve always enjoyed the 3K, but this year it’s really seemed to click.”

Bennie is now focusing on next February’s Canada Winter Games in PEI. She’ll then head to the University of Calgary in the fall of next year.

Matthew Mitchell is the B.C. junior boy’s long-track award winner.

“I would say this was probably my best year. I feel I worked really hard last summer to get ready,” said the 16-year-old. “I think my motivation was one of the big things this (past) year.”

Like Bennie, Mitchell said his next big goal is qualifying for the 2023 Canada Winter Games.

The four awards were announced at the Speed Skating BC’s annual general meeting held over the weekend in Kamloops.

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