Whitehorse speedskater Troy Henry didn’t have an as relaxing and laidback Christmas holiday as most.
The 24-year-old long-track skater spent his holiday season preparing for and skating in Team Canada’s Olympic trials at the Calgary Oval in Alberta.
“I didn’t really have a Christmas break,” said Henry. “I stayed down here in Calgary this time around. Often I’d come up to Whitehorse and skate with the club in Whitehorse a little bit.”
Henry skated in two distance events at the trials, the 5,000-metre on Dec. 28 and the 10,000-metre on Jan. 3.
He sped to fifth place in the 10,000-metre with a season best time of 14:07.57.
“I was six seconds behind the next spot, and for the 10-kilometre that’s really close,” said Henry. “I was really happy with that result because at the Olympic trials everyone is going to be at their best.
So that pretty much put me at fifth in Canada in the 10-kilometre.”
Henry also placed 11th in the 5,000-metre with a time of 6:46.24.
The day after the 10,000-metre, Henry competed on tired legs at the Canada Cup 2, an event unrelated to the Olympic trials, also in Calgary. Henry raced to 10th in the 1,500-metre (1:55.02) out of 63 skaters.
“It wasn’t all that fast,” said Henry. “It was still a good time, but it probably could have been four seconds faster. I was still pretty tired from doing the 10-kilometre the day before.”
Though a top-five finish at the Olympic trials could land a skater a spot on the Olympic team, Henry’s odds of making the team are not promising.
Canada’s long-track speedskating team did not post strong enough results in international competitions to qualify for the 10,000-metre at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, next month.
Additionally, Canada has only one spot in the 5,000-metre.
“It’s not likely I’d make it onto the Olympic team onto Sochi because there aren’t any positions available for Team Canada in the 10-kilometre,” said Henry. “The way we get positions is based on how we do in that distance at an international level throughout the season. We didn’t place well enough against other top countries to qualify.
“We did qualify for a spot in the five-kilometre, but it was just one spot in the five-kilometre.”
“Canada is typically really good at the sprint distances, so we got like four spots in the 500-metre and in the 1,000-metre and I think we got four spots in the 1,500-metre as well,” he added. “So we have lots of spots in the sprint distances, but internationally we didn’t qualify for many spots in the long distances.”
Speed Skating Canada will announce the long-track team for Sochi on Jan. 22.
If Henry makes the team, he won’t be the only skater from Canada’s North to compete in Sochi.
Yellowknifer Michael Gilday has been named to Canada’s short-track team following strong World Cup performances this season. The Sochi Games will be the 27-year-old’s first Olympics.
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com