Three speed-skaters from Vanderhoof brought home their first silver from the BC Winter Games held in Fort St. John last month.
Hayley Rae Legebokoff, Ann Watney, Elizabeth Carpenter won second place in the 3000 m relay.
The Omineca Express reached out to their coach for the Games, Keith Gordon, from Fort St. James, to speak about the skaters strengths.
“Their strengths are that all three skated very well as a team, and mostly made very good exchanges. Plus their endurance has improved a lot this year partly as a result of some of them practicing four or even five times a week,” Gordon said.
He said that several teams were disqualified in the first round at the BC Winter Games, and that made a medal easier. In the finals, the girls went up against a ‘much faster’ team and a slower team, the coach said.
“But despite that, there only being three teams in the final, a medal was by no means assured because our team had to clear the faster team when they lapped or they would be disqualified and no disqualified team gets a medal.”
“They skated extremely well and skated wide when they needed to. So they made good decisions too, which was a huge factor,” Gordon added.
As a coach, he sees ‘unlimited potential’ in these skaters.
“Skating well is not as much about natural talent but more about work ethic, diligent practice and going to as many meets within reason as can be fit in a life. To do that, you need to love skating,” he said, noting he always advocated getting skaters to camps and travelling to meets where the athletes can be exposed to different coaches.
He said he was very proud of them with their silver and ‘shed a few tears’.
Meanwhile, for Zone 7 to get relay golds next time, the team will need boys and girls that practice as hard as this year’s group did, Gordon said.
So for all athletes in Fort and Vanderhoof, hockey and ringette players, including casual skaters aged 10 and 11, should join the local speed skating club and get ready for BC Winter Games 2022.
“To win the relay we need powerful skaters who can exchange really well and skate fast. More meets, improved technique and more strength would certainly help,” the coach said.
He said coaching the Vanderhoof girls was a ‘great honor’.
Gordon said even though he hopes to coach the skaters again, he has retired from BC Games coaching. He has coached at several BC Winter Games and five times at the Canada Winter Games.
“We have many other coaches in the Zone, who are very worthy candidates to coach at BC Games next time,” Gordon added.