Whether you’re four or 84, speed skating has a lesson for everyone.
Those lessons were on display at the annual Fort St. John Long Track Interclub, where 62 skaters from around the region descended on the Pomeroy Sport Centre oval to test their mettle against local competition.
One important lesson Fort St. John Elks coach Richard Stickel said he heard about mid-afternoon Saturday was a masters skater trying to show her kids how it’s done.
“There’s a lady from Prince George, she said, ‘I’m just skating masters because my kids are skating and I want to show them it can be a lifetime sport,” Stickel recalled.
In quick response, he mentioned Dennis Morrison, father of Olympic speed skater Denny Morrison and his reason for racing Saturday.
“I look over and Dennis Morrison is putting on his skates, I said, ‘That’s the same as Dennis, he doesn’t care about his times anymore, just as long as he stays faster than his kids.’”
While many of the masters skaters were looking to notch qualifying times for the 2017 Masters Allround Games that will be coming to Fort St. John this spring, younger athletes were just ramping up the competitive juices.
“See progression,” Stickel said about the important takeaways from the interclub.
“You’re constantly looking for that progression and we work on certain things every year. This year we have really been working on tempo and attacking corners. Today, I really saw kids go out and push the edge. It’s hard because they’re tired, they have to learn how to work through that.”
Renee Kalkman had an impressive showing for the Elks, finishing first in the 500 metre, 1000m and 3000 in division one. Josh Telizyn was also tops in division two for the Elks with top finishes in the Mass Start, 500 and 3000m. Jack Hanson of the PG Blizzard Speed Skating Club was the fastest skater in division three with first place finishes in the 400 and 800m Mass Start along with a fifth place in the 200m Mass Start.
Prince George skater Sarah Hanson was also first in division four, with top finishes in the 400 and 800, and a second place in the 200m Mass Start. Jacob Paradela and James Hogarth of the Fort St. John Elks took home top spots in division five and six respectively.
For the youngest athletes, Stickel stressed the importance of having fun, and learning that in competition sometimes you’ll make mistakes, despite having all the tools to be a successful skater.
“For them, it’s kind of to learn how to deal with situations and enjoy it. Not feel bad about it,” he said.
Skaters came from Dawson Creek, Peace River, Grande Prairie, and Prince George for the event, another huge factor for the long track program developing strong skaters in Fort St. John and surrounding area.
“It’s always nice, we bring in our neighbour clubs and have all the younger skaters out and really see where they are,” Stickel said.
“With the older group, we really get a good idea right now, where we’re skating and what’s happening. We’re going to go to Can Am in another few weeks and you can see where the mistakes are and what we need to work on, so it’s really nice.”
The next meet for the Fort St. John Elks will be a short track competition in Edmonton from Nov. 11-13.
Results by division and points:
KALKMAN, Renee Fort St. John Elks 3,000
BRUNN, Hannah Dawson Creek 2,175
CONNELL, David PG Blizzard Speed Skating Club 1,802
STICKEL, Eryn Fort St. John Elks 1,694
JOHNSON, Ken Fort St. John Elks 1,652
TELIZYN, Joshua Fort St. John Elks 3,000
LOVELL, Yuna Fort St. John Elks 2,298
NEWLOVE, Nyam Fort St. John Elks 2,025
GULIOV, Nicholas Fort St. John Elks 1,652
HANSON, Kieran PG Blizzard Speed Skating Club 1,281
HANSON, Jack PG Blizzard Speed Skating Club 2,443
VANSICKLE, Nolan PG Blizzard Speed Skating Club 2,298
MACGREGOR, Austin Fort St. John Elks 2,025
CHRISTENSON, Mikyla Dawson Creek 1,886
NORTH, Emma Fort St. John Elks 1,269
HANSON, Sarah PG Blizzard Speed Skating Club 2,816
ASHRAFI, Tara Fort St. John Elks 1,994
VANSICKLE, Megan PG Blizzard Speed Skating Club 1,961
ANDERSON, Naomi Dawson Creek 1,471
OTTO, Austin Dawson Creek 1,429
PARADELA, Jacob Fort St. John Elks 3,000
KEY, Phoenix Fort St. John Elks 2,175
WHALE, Ivanka Fort St. John Elks 2,148
POS, Arjen Fort St. John Elks 1,552
LOCK, Rhys Fort St. John Elks 1,529
HOGARTH, James Fort St. John Elks 2,816
RAMSEY, Taylor Fort St. John Elks 2,298
DU PREEZ, Liam Fort St. John Elks 1,875
RAMSEY, Kennedie Fort St. John Elks 1,543