It was the first time; The Canadian Open Masters Long Track Championship's were hosted by Fort. St John but the first time was quite the success. Running two days - February 4th and 5th, all races were held at the Pomeroy Sports Centre. The Fort St. John Elks Speed Skating Club hosted the championship on behalf of B.C. Speed Skating and Speed Skating Canada.
"It's been a really good meet," said Richard Stickel, Head Coach of the Fort St John Elks Speed Skating Club. " It's broken down in different age groups so a lot of people are getting medals for the different groups they are in but it has just been phenomenal to watch everyone competing but staying positive with each other. It's really been a lot of fun."
Eight local skaters entered the championships, with four exhibition skaters and four competing for medals. All four competitors took home a medal in their respective age groups. Barb Polehoykie got a silver medal in the 50-54 age group and Hilda Bilodeau a bronze in the same class. Those were the two female skaters for Fort St John that competed for medals. The two males were Rick Lee, who snagged the gold medal in the 45-49 and Robin Sipe a bronze in the same age class. The exhibition skaters for Fort St. John were Heather McCracken, Kim McPhedran, Shannon Mullen, Jay Morrison and Chris McPhedran.
"The city has really stepped up for this event," continued Stickel. "Pomeroy has been a great sponsor for us and we are very grateful for that. This is the first time we have hosted it in the five years the competition has been going but it looks like we definitely could again seeing how smooth it has gone so far."
Skaters at this competition were not only just racing but setting personal bests for themselves and breaking track records. Skaters such as Rick Lee broke his own personal bests on the ice. Skater, Jay Morrison came out to break track records, really exciting the spectators at the event.
"We heard nothing but positive things about the facility and the city and, as organizers, were very pleased with the whole weekend," said Dee-Ann Stickel, Meet Coordinator.
After two days of racing and just before the marathon race the contestants took to the medal stage where they were presented their awards. Notably, Roy Whitney was presented for a medal for racing in the age group of 80-84 - the only one in his class. Contestants, coaches and spectators alike gave him a standing ovation for his accomplishment at the weekend's competition.