While the older Fort St. John Elks speed skaters made noise with their impressive showing at the Canada Winter Games, some of the younger skaters were holding their own as well.
The Elks took five skaters to Winnipeg for the 2019 Speed Skating Age Class Nationals Feb. 8 to 10, with three skaters winning medals. Among them, Sidney Bennie, 13, had the most success, winning a gold medal in the team pursuit and 500m, and a silver medal in the seven-lap ISU. She finished second in all of Canada for her age group to win a second silver medal. Also competing in Winnipeg were Hannah North, Matthew Mitchell, Emma North, and Cheyanne Key.
“It was really good and I’m proud of how I ended the year. I was confident in all my races and had a great time with the rest of Team B.C.,” said Bennie.
Bennie attended the age class nationals in both 2017 and 2018, placing fourth in her division both times. She took a big jump this year in large part to a surgery she had at the beginning of the season to remove her accessory navicular bone in her foot. It’s an extra bone on the inner side of the foot that some people are born with, and since the surgery, Bennie has felt stronger and has been able to improve her technique.
Bennie can’t wait until next year, when she’ll be able to compete at Canada Cup, and plans on training all summer long. She credits a lot of her success this year to her coach Richard Stickel, who she said has been an immense help.
“I’m not surprised at how she’s done. She had skated well in years past and I expected her to take this next step. She has a lot more confidence since her surgery,” Stickel said.
Also winning a medal was Hannah North, who won a gold with Bennie in the team pursuit, and Mitchell, who took home bronze in the junior boys team pursuit.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.