Though it's only been a month, Josh Telizyn's first year skating fulltime with a team other than the Fort St. John Elks is everything he hoped it would be. After graduating from NPSS this past summer, Telizyn moved to Calgary to join the Calgary OIympic Oval's Pathway Team, and to attend the University of Calgary.
Since he moved to Caglary on July 15, Telizyn has been skating twice a day, six times a week, with dryland training and bike riding sprinkled throughout. For Telizyn, his days right now are eat-skate-sleep-repeat, and that's just fine with him.
"I loved my time in Fort St. John, and I'm excited for a change of pace, and a whole new training environment. I love it here, everyone has the same goals, same ability level, and it's a great group to skate wtih," said Telizyn.
The program is broken up into five stages. Stage 5 is the Olympic-level skaters, Stage 4 the national and Next Gen skaters, and Stage 3 — where Telizyn fits — is for university student-athletes on the faster end.
"I was the snail of the group at first, trying to keep up with these guys who have been here since April. I was skating and training too, but on my own, and my self discipline was a little lacking," Telizyn said. "Now as a group we can motivate each other and all have a big mindset of making each other better."
As for his goals, Telizyn originally had his sights on improving his 5,000m time, skating with the distance group. However, Calgary Oval coach Arno Hoogveld challenged Telizyn to aim a little higher, and their collective goal is to have Telizyn make the podium at the 2021 ISU World Junior Speed Skating Championships. Telizyn recorded the third-fastest 500m time for all juniors in the world last year at the oval, and Hoogveld believes Telizyn has what it takes.
Whether the World Junior Championships — scheduled Feb. 21 to 23 in Tomaszow, Poland — will actually take place is a different matter altogether, but for the rest of 2020 Telizyn will do all he can to make sure he's up for the challenge.
"They keep cancelling races left, right and centre, and our first time trial isn't until September 27. Who knows if it will run but we can still set our goals and hope," Telizyn said. "It's out of my control, so all I can do is focus on the training, be the best I can, pick the brains of those around me and learn as much as I can."
Though he's enjoying summer training, that part isn't normal either. The skaters have to wear masks, and haven't been able to skate in a train (closely following one another) until last week.
"Not having to socially distance on the ice anymore lets you shut your mind off, and think of the cues that the coach gives you and just focus on the skating," Telizyn said.
He's slowly getting used to skating with a mask, but it said it feels like altitude training.
"I'm already elevated 400m here from when I was in Fort St. John, and now you add the mask, but it's character building. You get used to it after a while, and you have to stop complaining and accept it," Telizyn said.
For now, Telizyn has a couple more weeks to devote entirely to training, before splitting time between the oval and his general studies program at the U of C.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at email@example.com.