From start to finish, Braden Clouthier had an impressive speed skating season. It began when the 15-year-old set new personal best times in the opening meet, continued into the season when he won three medals at the national long track championships and wrapped up Thursday when he received the Dawson Creek Speed Skating Club's skater of the year award.
Not bad for a kid in his first year in the junior division and with two more seasons remaining with the local club.
"Starting off, I thought it went pretty well. Our first meet was in Fort St. John and I 'PBed' (personal best) all of my distances. My 500 I 'PBed' by a whole second and throughout the year I got one or two more PBs," explained the Grade 10 South Peace Secondary School student.
"I thought my season went pretty well overall and the long track went great to me. I was a first-year junior this year and to still come second overall at Canadians. I didn't expect that."
He also didn't expect to win the club's top skater award. The award is based on points a skater picks up for a variety of accomplishments such as meets attended and medals won. He narrowly edged juvenile-division skater Jacob Graham by a mere point.
Clouthier qualified for the national short track championships, but chose not to attend. However, he made a name for himself as a up-and-coming star on the long track when he placed second overall at the national long track championships in this his first season as a junior-level skater. At that Winnipeg contest, he won a gold in the 500-metre race, silver in the 1,000 distance and bronze in the 1,500.
Clouthier intends to dryland train over the summer and skate at Fort St. John's Enerplex when there is ice available. And next season he plans to focus on the long track and attend as many high-level long track meets as possible.
"Next year I probably won't be doing as many short track meets, I might do some if they are close but I probably won't be going to Canadians. I will be practising more Olympic-style long track next year and try and go to Canada Cups and stuff."
Adam Wangler won the club's rookie of the year award. The Grade 3 Notre Dame student made some noticeable gains in his first season with the club, pointed out coach Meredith Thornton.
Dr. Steve Ashwell, one of the adults who skates with the club along with his son, won the sportsmanship award.
Rebecca MacLean and Sarah Graham took the most improved female skaters on the short track and long tracks respectively. MacLean, a Grade 6 student at Canalta in her second speed skating season, made major strides in lowering her times and improving her form.
Graham, a Grade 6 Notre Dame student, was the Canadian long track midget division champ after winning golds in the 800-metre and 1,000-metre, silver in the 500-metre and bronze in the 300-metre at the national contest.
James Hopkins won the club's most improved short track male skater award.
He has been to numerous provincial and national short track and long track championships but this is his first club award. In his final season with the club before moving on to university, the SPSS Grade 12 student reduced his 1,000-metre time down to one minute and 30 seconds.
And Jacob Graham, who fully recovered this season from a broken leg last season, won the most improved long track male skater.