Racing against other nationally qualified competitors across Canada, Vanderhoof speed skaters brought home medals and achieved personal bests this winter.
On Feb. 4 and 5, five skaters from the Nechako Lake Speed Skating Club and one skater from Fort St. James competed at the Canadian Age Class Long Track national meet in Edmonton.
While all finished with significantly improved personal best times, two Vanderhoof skaters brought home Canadian Age Class medals:
In the T2T/12 category, Madison Seely placed third in the Olympic Style 500 meter distance with a time of 0.50.63.
Nicole McBride claimed silver with her BC T2T-14 girls team in the T2T Senior Girls Pursuit with a time of 3.24.59.
Fort. St. James skater Morgan Bennison was the overall winner of the open male category, winning all his races, as well as placing first in the Dave Thompson Memorial 5K with a time of 7.42.200.
For most of the Vanderhoof representatives, it was their first time competing in the national event. Thanking the coaches, meet organizers, and volunteers for the experience — skater Logal Sewell’s parents travelled with the team —the skaters all enjoyed the experience.
Nicole McBride, Grade 9, didn’t expect to be placed top three in an event.
“It was really fun, made several personal bests,” McBride said. “It was a great experience overall, meeting people from all over Canada.
“Everyone was sportsmanlike and whatever happened in the track stays out there.”
Madison Seely, Grade 7, said she found that focusing on achieving her personal bests was better than trying to beat others.
For Logan Sewell, the toughest part was the team pursuit event, where skaters race in a team, drafting off each other for speed. He was competing as part of the B.C. team, and many of his teammates were faster skaters, he said.
Connor Ebert, Grade 10, qualified and participated several years ago in the national event that was hosted in Saskatchewan. He also substantially sped up his race time for his events as well.
To qualify for the national meet, the skaters races against others from across the province at the BC Long Track provincials held in Dawson Creek on Jan. 21 and 22, bringing home three gold and two silver medals.
Five skaters from Vanderhoof and three from Fort St James qualified to skate in the national competition as part of a team of 37 BC skaters: Vanderhoof’s Connor Ebert, Logan Sewell, Nicole McBride, Alexis Seely, and Madison Seely, as well as Fort St. James’ Morgan Bennison, Amy Waddell and Sean Houghton.
While the Vanderhoof club trains primarily on a short track (100/111 meters) with head coach Nicole Ebert, to train for long track events they take advantage of the outdoor oval in Fort. St. James, as well as the expertise of the Fort. St. James Falcons’ coach Keith Gordon — who was the original home coach for current 500 meter World Cup bronze medalist, Jamie MacDonald.