It will be tough for the Whitehorse Rapids Speed Skating Club to top its successes from last season, but the club is going to try.
The Rapids club kicked off the season with a weekend camp at the Canada Games Centre. About 18 skaters took part in the camp run by Debby Fisher, an inductee to Speed Skating Canada’s Hall of Fame and a former coach with the National Speed Skating Training Centre in Calgary.
“I haven’t seen the kids in two years and one of the things I really have noticed is that they are skating very technically well,” said Fisher. “That means the coaches here are following up with elements that we’ve been bringing to them. I’m not the only coach that’s been coming up here.”
Competing on Team Yukon, Rapids skaters captured 15 medals at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games last March in Whitehorse. That’s more than twice as many as at the 2010 Arctic Games.
Still, the club is always looking for more skaters to join, said head coach Phil Hoffman.
“Hopefully we’re getting into a building year. We have a few new kids starting in the younger group, so hopefully we can build up numbers.
“If people are still interested, they can come talk to us. We’re always looking to build up a base of skaters.”
The Arctic Winter Games was not the only success for the Rapids last season. Heather Clarke, who won five medals at the Games and set a record in the 777-metre event, became the first female skater from the Yukon to compete at the Canadian Short Track Championships at the end of March.
Clarke won bronze in the 1,500-metre event on her way to finishing fifth overall in women’s junior B (17-and-under).
Former Rapids member Troy Henry is also producing results. Last winter, Henry switched from short-track to long-track, following a broken arm sustained during a race.
Henry placed seventh in the 5,000-metre at the North American Speed Skating Championships in February, posting the fourth fastest time in Canada for his age group. He also produced the third fastest time in Canada for his age group in the 1,500-metre event at the championships.
Both Clarke and Henry are currently training in Calgary.
“I just saw them on Friday,” said Fisher. “They are both doing really well.”
The Rapids club intends to send skaters to Alberta for a meet in Medicine Hat in the last week of October and to another in Calgary in the first weekend in March. If all goes well, the club will also be represented at the Canada West Championships in Canmore, Alberta, and the Canadian Championships in Montreal.
Perhaps the work done on their technique over the weekend will help get them there.
“If they have speed but no technique, they are going to burn themselves out before they get to the end of the race,” said Fisher. “My motto has always been: technique first, speed will come.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org