World champ to give pointers at camp

Former world speed skating champ Mengyao (Maggie) Qi is coming up from Calgary for her second visit to help out.

There doesn’t seem to be a better time to try speed skating than this weekend in Whitehorse.

Not only is the Whitehorse Rapids Speed Skating Club holding a developmental camp, former world champ Mengyao (Maggie) Qi is coming up from Calgary for her second visit to help out.

“She works a lot on technique, so she’ll do a lot of technical work with the kids,” said Rapids head coach Phil Hoffman.

“We’re looking for skaters and anybody that is interested,” he added. “If anybody wants to try it and see if it’s for them, they are welcome to come and try it.”

More than simply trying to grow the sport, the Rapids club is recruiting for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games, being hosted by Whitehorse for a sixth time in March.

“We have the Arctic Winter Games coming up and we’re a little short of a few kids, so I’m hoping we can get a few other kids interested and can fill up the team, so we have relay teams in all the four divisions” said Hoffman.

There are 16 spots available on the speed skating team, eight in juvenile (11-13 years) and eight in junior (15-19 years), split between boys and girls. Trials for the Games will take place December 4.

“Anybody who’s a decent skater already can probably pick up speed skating well enough to race in the Arctic Winter Games,” said Hoffman. “If they’re just starting (skating) it will be hard.

“Learning the technique is the big thing. It’s a little different skating technique. And just learning how to race too.”

The camp costs $50 for the younger kids and $90 for the older kids, runs Friday evening through to Sunday, with skates available for newcomers.

“We should have enough sizes to go around,” said Hoffman.

The camp also marks the club’s return to the ATCO rink at the Canada Games Centre. Not only did a fire on June 24 delay the opening of the rink this year, the Rapids club lost all their protective mats in the blaze. The mats, which line the boards of the rink to cushion skaters who fall, have cost about $112,000 to replace.

“We have about halfway to what we really need,” said Hoffman. “I think we’re just about there in the fundraising part, we’re just waiting for them to be built. We’re just getting them in in dribs and drabs as they are ready.”

More information on the camp can be found at or by calling Hoffman at 633-5984.

Contact Tom Patrick at