Heather Clarke and Shea Hoffman had their work cut out for them over the weekend.
The two Whitehorse Rapids speed skaters were placed in divisions based on their seed times going into the Winterfest competition at the Calgary Oval.
In other words, every race was a tough fight at the short-track meet.
“It was a good competition for both of them because it is a close competition, the way they divide them up by speed,” said Rapids head coach Phil Hoffman. “So they have kids to race against who are close to them.
“There were some high-end competitors there. There was one guy from the states who was on the U.S. Olympic team in 2010 and won a medal in the relay.”
Clarke, who is a member of the Calgary Oval Program, had her best results in the two 500-metre races, setting a personal best time each day.
Clarke, 18, placed fifth in Division 1 on Saturday and first in Division 2 on Sunday in the 500-metre races, logging a time of 46.757 seconds on Sunday.
“On Sunday I had a really good day and I’m really happy with the time I got in the 500,” said Clarke.
“Overall I’m pretty happy with it,” said Clarke of the meet. “The first day didn’t start off very good. In the 1,500 there was a lot of pushing and shoving in the first race and I ended up falling in that one. And in the final I made a silly pass and lost a lot of speed. So it wasn’t a good start to the day, but it got better as it went on.”
Clarke also placed fifth in the 1,500-metre for Division 1, ninth in the 1,500-metre for Division 1, and fifth in the 1,000-metre for Division 2 with a personal best time of 1:37.035.
Hoffman came sixth in the 1,500-metre for Division 7, fourth in the 1,000-metre for Division 10 and eighth in the 500-metre for Division 10 on Saturday.
On Sunday he was second in the 1,500-metre for Division 7 and fifth in the 500-metre for Division 11.
Clarke will be finishing off the season with the Canadian Short Track Championships in Montreal at the end of next week.
She won the first medal by a Yukoner at the event last year with a bronze.
“I’m in a different age group this time. I’m in junior A now, and this division is junior A and seniors,” said Clarke. “There could be anyone skating there, so we’ll see who’s there. But I’m hoping for some pretty good results.”
Clarke also competed at two major competitions in December.
She placed 26th out of 32 skaters at the Canadian Junior Short Track Championships in Etobicoke, Ontario. She then took 16th at the National Short Track Qualifier in Quebec.
Clarke also won two gold and three silver at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse. In addition to making all her A finals, she set an Arctic Games record in the junior female 777-metre event, with a time of 1:17.17.
Hoffman raced to second in the 500-metre at the Medicine Hat Short Track Ability Meet early November. He then snagged fifth in the 3,000-metre A final in Junior B at the Central Interior Challenge Interclub in Prince George, B.C later in the month.
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