Rapids skaters speed into new season

Five Rapids skaters competed at the Medicine Hat Alberta Open Single Distance Championships in Alberta with two posting personal best times in each event.

Members of the Whitehorse Rapids Speed Skating Club opened the season at their top speed over the weekend.

Five Rapids skaters competed at the Medicine Hat Alberta Open Single Distance Championships in Alberta with two posting personal best times in each event.

The Yukon skaters included Whitehorse’s Shea Hoffman, Haines Junction’s Michael Ritchie and three Taggart-Cox brothers of Marsh Lake.

“Some of those younger kids got a lot of personal bests,” said Rapids head coach Phil Hoffman. “Micah and Michael got personal bests in all four of their distances.”

Micah Taggart-Cox placed fourth in mixed Division 1 with personal bests in every event.

Micah, who is the oldest of the Taggart-Cox brothers, took third in the 200-metre B final, third in the 1,500-metre A final and fourth in the 400-metre B final.

He also placed third in the 3,000-metre A final, shaving 56.40 seconds off his previous best time.

Ritchie, also racing in Division 1, placed seventh overall. He took a full minute off his 3,000-metre time, placing seventh in the A final.

“Michael knocked a minute off his 3,000 time,” said Phil. “The 3,000 is a longer race, but a minute in that is quite a bit. And he’s more of a sprinter.”

Ritchie also sped to second in the 200-metre B final, third in the 400-metre B final and fourth in 1,500-metre A final.

Lucas Taggart-Cox placed second overall out of 10 skaters in the mixed Division 3. He took first in the 200-metre B final and skated personal best times to place second in the 300- and 400-metre A finals. He also raced to third in the 1,000-metre A final.

Lucas was just ahead of older brother Caius, who took third overall in the same division.

Caius hit a personal best time to take third in the 400-metre A final. He also came fourth in the 200- and 300-metre A finals.

Shea Hoffman had his work cut out for him in the open men’s division, racing against members of the elite Calgary Oval Program.

Shea took first in the 500-metre F final and the 1,000-metre E final. He also took fourth in the 3,000-metre B final and placed 17th overall out of 21 skaters in the competitive division.

The Rapids will host club races on Nov. 17 and trials for the 2014 Arctic Winter Games on Dec. 8. Shea, who cycled for Yukon at the Canada Summer Games in August, will likely make his fourth trip to the Arctic Games for speedskating next March.

Ritchie will attempt to make Yukon’s Arctic Games team a second time, after competing in 2012.

“It’s not official, but we’re short on numbers,” said Phil. “So all the kids who are eligible will go.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com