Just prior to getting back on the speed skating oval after 12 years away from the sport, Alison Anderson was having dreams about skating.
In them, she said she was often at the start line with the wrong type of skates or otherwise unprepared for the race to come.
Anderson had been a skilled skater as a youth, competing in national and North America-wide meets. She retired from the sport when she was 18 and off to university. Three years ago, she got back into the sport after first enrolling her now five-year-old daughter in classes with the Whitehorse Rapids Speed Skating Club and then getting back into training with them herself soon after.
She described a steep learning curve from clinging to the boards on her first training session to keeping pace with the club’s masters skaters and then eventually even the teenagers. Following year-round training over the past year with ample strength work in the offseason, Anderson geared up for her first big out of territory meet: the Masters International Short Track (MIST) Games held in Calgary on March 26 and 27.
The MIST games were an international event with skaters from Canada, the United States, France, Serbia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Australia in attendance.
More than just holding her own in her first big meet back, Anderson excelled, winning all four of her events and setting four world records in the women’s 30-34 age category in the process.
Although she was pleased with her record-breaking times, Anderson wasn’t entirely surprised. As her training progressed, she looked up the records for her age groups and found them an attainable goal to strive for. She described the record chase as a good goal to keep her motivated and working hard through the COVID-19 pandemic.
At meet’s end Anderson timed out with 1.46.990 in the 1,000 metre, 51.764 in the 500-metre, 1.21.181 in the 777-metre and 2.44.520 in the 1,500-metre.
Despite all her preparation, she said she found the big international meet mentally exhausting with only 45 minutes between her races at some points.
Anderson said that at the start of the meet, she was worried about burning herself out and fell short of the world record in the preliminary heats of the 1,000-metre race. In the finals she dug deep, got over some jitters and outpaced both the competition and the record. In later races, Anderson hit a stride beating the record in the early heats and exceeding her own standard later on.
Sometimes feeling that she could have taken speed skating farther as a youth, Anderson said it feels great to be competing at a high level and representing her country again.
Anderson doesn’t have bad skating dreams anymore.
With her records in the book and enjoying every minute on the ice, Anderson said she has her eye on the next MIST Games next year in Amsterdam to defend her records for her last year in this age class. She is also looking forward to the 2024 Winter World Masters Games that will be held in Italy.
When speed skating starts up again in Whitehorse in the fall, Anderson said she encourages new skaters regardless of age to come try it out.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org