Two Vanderhoof speed skaters will be soaring around the ovals of the BC Winter Games this week highlighting this region’s reputation for dishing out some serious competition.
Sarah McBride and Alison Desmerais can’t wait to show their stuff at the games in Vernon.
“I’ve never been (to the games) so I’m really excited,” McBride said.
McBride also qualified for a biathlon, and said she likes both sports so she’ll keep training for both.
Sisters Hilary and Alison Desmerais will be comparing notes before Alison heads off to the games because Hilary had been there twice, and now Alison will take her second tour. She was the youngest of her age group two years ago, but will come showing her competitive experience this time around.
“It was my first high-level competition,” she said of her last winter games, from which she took fourth in one race, no small feat at that contest.
Hilary Desmerais, who won a silver medal in the national long track skate in Winnipeg and a gold last year at the Age Class Long Track Championship, said her sister will enjoy the B.C. games on many levels.
“It’s great to meet other athletes,” she shared, “and you pick up skills.”
Alison can take her own recent wins as inspiration to the Winter Games, having swept a silver at the age class in Fort St. John two weeks ago.
The games-bound girls should be inspired by wins in Fort St. John by boy Clipper racers Matthew Ebert, who took gold, and Lachlan Fantillo who nabbed the bronze.
Add to that gold medals from veteran Vanderhoof racers and trainers Anne Douglas and Nicole Ebert at that same meet, and you can see the pattern of excellence they’re sharing.
The Nechako Lake club keeps sending speed skaters to high level meets because they’re having fun and improving with the support of one another, says club president, Calvin Desmerais.
“Parents and kids train together and multiple kids from one family are skating together,” Desmerais explained, and they make it about fun as much as the technical training, which is crucial to success.
Skaters from Vanderhoof have been winning and evolving after every meet. and that goes for the coaches and officials who are also developing ever higher skill levels, he observed.
“We have grown the club together and we’re progressing together,” Desmerais said.
His wife, Julie Desmerais also officiates and works with skaters.
The Clippers train with the Fort St. James club, and two girls from there, Emily Sulyma and Sarah Leach will go to Vernon. Alison Leach will be coaching the girls, her sixth time going to the games.
Calvin Desmerais praised the District of Vanderhoof for sponsoring the Fort St. James meet and said thanks is overdue for Vanderhoof arena manager, Shallon Touet.
Watch for results from all the region’s athletes going to the winter games, including jr. curling teams and skiers, in coming editions of Omineca Express. and Caledonia Courier.