Vanderhoof speed skater represented B.C. and won bronze overall at the Canadian Age Class Long Track championships held in Winnipeg.
Madison Seely, grade 9 student at Nechako Valley Secondary School said she has been skating with the Vanderhoof Clippers short track speed skating club since she was six-years old.
The Winnipeg championship held on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 was her 9th season as a speed skater. Seely won bronze overall during the nationals, but also won silver in 500-meters and gold in team pursuit, where she skated with other competitors from B.C.
When asked what she loved about skating, Seely said, “I like to go fast.”
To qualify for the provincial team, Seely had to place in the top-two of the province during the B.C. Long Track event held in Fort St. John. She received gold and was named for the B.C. team headed for the nationals in Winnipeg.
When Seely started skating at six, hockey or figure skating didn’t appeal to her.
“Because it just wasn’t what I was looking for. So my mom entered me into speed skating and I really loved that because when I was little we just got to skate and that’s what we did. And I could keep going faster and faster,” she said.
Seely has constantly improved her form and technique and said, that in order to get better she had to make mistakes. “Because you can always fix them and that’s what I love about skating.”
But this is not the first time that Seely has returned home with medals. She has several gold medals in both short and long track. To be able to get to this level, Seely has participated in strength training, dryland and speed skating camps off-season.
She said she credits her accomplishments to her coaches over the years. Her Vanderhoof coach is Nicole Ebert and Seely said she goes to Fort St. James to train in long-track and her coach there is Keith Gordon.
But apart from skating, Seely believes that training in track and field, running and cross country with Brian Nemethy and the running club has increased her endurance and pain tolerance — which are a necessity when one competes in long track speed skating.
During the nationals, athletes faced extreme cold on the outdoor oval in Winnipeg, with the temperature falling to – 35 C with windchill. But Seely reached speeds of 40 km/hr in the cold to be awarded the bronze medal for Canadian overall champion of her age class — F14, stated Anne Douglas, trainer at Vanderhoof Clippers Speed Skating club.
Seely said she enjoys long track skating the most, but because of the weather conditions both the 1500 meters and 5 km exhibition skate were cancelled at the nationals. She said she wishes she could have competed in 1500 meters.
Seely’s mother Jessica said she is very proud of her daughter. “They train regularly and do dryland twice a week. So it is pretty intense. A couple of years ago people were saying ‘oh it is too much’ so I would work out with her and make sure I knew what she was doing. It was hard and she did a good job,” Jessica said.
An approximate 130 participants took part in the nationals and Seely competed with 18 speed skaters in her age class.
Seely said she doesn’t think she wants to spend her adult life competing in speed skating but will skate non-competitively as she really enjoys long track.