Just weeks after returning to the ice, members of the Rapids Speed Skating Club were posting personal best times at the Arctic Winter Games trials at the Canada Games Centre on Sunday.
“With all the camps we’ve had recently, with the coaches we’ve had coming up from down south, their technique has been improving,” said Yukon coach Stacey Pennington. “Since that’s such a huge part of the sport, we’re seeing the direct results in the faster times.”
With the first installment of the trials for Yukon’s Arctic Winter Games team complete, nine skaters have secured spots on the team.
Whitehorse’s Donald Fortune is on the team for the junior male division and will be competing at his third Arctic Games. He won two silver and a bronze at the 2010 Games in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Other team members back for a second go-around are Emily Klassen, Rasheeda Slater, Daryn Lovell, Shea Hoffman and Hanna Wirth. Wirth won bronze in the 500-metre in 2010.
Skating in the juvenile division will be first-time competitors Christopher Ritchie, Michael Ritchie and Katharina Wirth.
With seven spots still vacant on the roster, the speed skating club will be holding more Arctic Games trials on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Canada Games Centre.
“So far it’s looking good. We’d love to get a full team, if possible, but I think the kids will do great no matter what,” said Pennington. “I don’t think we’ve ever sent a full team.
“I think everyone is getting excited,” she added. “If more people want to come out for the next trial that would be great.”
The club hopes to add onto the team two other veterans who were away this past weekend. Both Kathryn Fortune and Heather Clarke are expected at the second trials.
Kathryn represented the Yukon at the 2010 Games and Clarke has competed at the last two, winning two golds and a bronze in 2010. Clarke also represented the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games last February in Halifax.
Yukon represented at Junior Nationals
Whitehorse’s Heather Clarke missed the Arctic Games trials, but she had a terrific excuse.
The 17-year-old spent her weekend as the only Yukoner competing at the Canadian Junior Championships, held at the Olympic Oval in Calgary over the weekend.
“I was basically just happy to be in the competition in the first place,” said Clarke. “Just to make it into the competition was pretty special; I was just happy to be there.”
Skating four events, setting a personal best time in the 500-metre, Clarke finished 30th overall. It was her first time competing at the event.
“The results don’t show it too well, but I actually skated really well and improved a lot over the weekend,” said Clarke. “As the weekend went on, I got more aggressive and I skated better and better through each round. So I’m really happy with how it went.”
Clarke will be back competing this week in the trials for the National Championships.
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