Apryl Veld – Omineca Express
The Vanderhoof speed skate club raced in the Provincial short track meet in Kamloops March 3-4. The local speed lovers were having fun and honing their skills.
“Good pieces of learning happen there,” Vanderhoof Clippers president Calvin Desmerais said, “they learn how to race … when do I pass? when to come out.”
Skating in a group is one of the special skills the club’s skaters are evolving, Desmerais explained.
The moves are similar to how flocks of fowl change position, in that when one moves forward, the others make room, because being out front during key laps helps a skater earn points.
“They’re like birds,” the skate trainer said.
The Nechako area Clippers were among the 80 skaters representing 21 clubs racing at the short track meet in Kamloops, and the athletes ranged from age 11 to 80. Note that 80 is not a typo; this skater is Agatha van der Starre racing in the masters or Active For Life (AFL) division. There were skaters aged 63 and 57 and much younger also competing in AFL division that weekend.
The meet is an important all ages competition that helps everyone work on their racing chops and take in the other racers’ styles.
“One neat thing is the kids see the adults skate and doing their personal best,” the Clippers guy emphasized. It also shows that no one must stop doing what they love because of his or her age.
One of the Clipper racers, Alison Desmerais was trying to beat her own personal best time for one of these events, her father explained.
“Alison wanted to beat her 400 metre time of 42 seconds,” he said, “this would qualify her for the Canadian Western Regional Championship. And so Desmerais did snag that goal, beating her personal best time by 1.5 seconds, and qualified to race at the CWG championships in Winnipeg, March 24-25. She won a bronze last year when the westerns were held in Kelowna.
The Clippers also sent “train to train” racers Mathew Ebert, Jessica Sewell, and Sarah McBride to the provincial short track championship. Ebert took a silver, McBride took an iron (fourth place medal) and Sewell just missed an iron, but did an amazing skate for a fifth place finish as well.
“Everyone accomplished some important goals … we see what we can accomplish and what we can do better,” the senior Desmerais said.
He noted that Alison shared with the other skaters her racing perspective, that if you train and work at it, improving is within your reach.
Sarah McBride and Alison Desmerais also competed at the BC Winter Games and did very well.
Desmerais won a silver in the Final Standing event as well as a bronze in both final A 1,500 metre and girls 3,000 metre races.
McBride was also in the winter games spotlight having lapped all her competitors in the heat race. If a skater catches up to the last person in laps, the skater who is passed by a lap must leave the race.
“She just kept passing people,” the Clipper president said mirthfully, “the other coaches really noticed her style.”
Desmerais said the Vanderhoof and Fort St. James skaters all did well at the games, though some seeded into categories into which they could not compete for gold, they pulled off remarkable skates and broke their own personal best records,