The National Long Track Speed Skating training camp has come to an end, seemingly as fast as the skaters can do a lap of the Pomeroy Sport Centre oval. It was a frantic two weeks, filled with intense on-ice and dry land training, spending time with local skaters, and bonding as a team, and it was exactly what the team was hoping for.
“Fort St. John was awesome. Jennifer Gibson did an awesome job planning it. We did some great bike rides, and the oval is great. The ice makers did a really good job,” said coach Bart Schouten.
First year national team member Abigail McCluskey agreed.
McCluskey grew up in Penticton, and had skated at the Pomeroy oval three times before, and said she likes it more each time.
“Camp’s been very good, better than expected. The team has bonded really well, and the town’s been super great to us and I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Schouten is happy the team could bring attention to both the oval and the up-and-coming speed skaters here. He held a coaching clinic on Sept. 7, and emphasized the 10 points of skating technique to 42 eager students.
“There are some talented kids that are really eager to learn and want to get better. We’re hoping to see the next Denny Morrison,” Schouten said.
Two things specific to the Pomeroy Sport Centre oval that Schouten enjoyed were the longer straight-aways and the slower ice, as a result of Fort St. John having lower altitude compared to Calgary. The oval is the same length as the one in Calgary, but has a 112m straight-away instead of 105m, resulting in tighter corners and forcing the skaters to adapt and focus on different parts of their technique. The slower ice made the team focus on their pushing techniques and work a little bit harder.
All in all, both coaches and skaters alike are pleased with how camp went and the progress the team made.
“We did some great team building and real hard practices every single time,” said McCluskey.
The team is now back in Calgary and will spend the next five weeks training and practicing for the World Cup tryouts, Oct. 20 to 24.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.