Despite a down turn in the number of competitions because of the long-term player development program, the local speed skaters are representing well in tournaments this season.
The Moose Jaw Kiwanis Speed Skating club recently sent four skaters to the Canadian Age Class Long Track national competition in Winnipeg over the weekend and brought home eight medals.
“We sent four out of a field of 155 skaters from seven different provinces and one territory and three out of the four came home with medals,” said Lee Moyse, president of the club. “We didn’t know if they would medal. We went in there thinking that Eastern Canada has huge population base and Quebec is predominately the powerhouse.”
Graeme Fish won a silver medal in the 3,000 metre race. Alex Fish gave a great performance as well in his age division.
“In a few of the age categories, Quebec did dominate and they swept the podium,” said Moyse.
Gabrielle Sanson won two gold medals in the 300 and 500 metre races and a silver medal in the 100 metre race. Olivia Moyse won silver medals in the 300, 500, and 3,000 metre races and a bronze in the 100 metre. She was also the overall points champion for the 12-year-old girls division. Olivia Moyse and Sanson also won a silver medal in the relay race in the 12-year-old girl division.
“Olivia and Gabby did well and they came out of Winnipeg last year for Canada West first and second, so we knew how well we were doing in the west, but we had no idea what to expect against Ontario and Quebec,” stated Moyse. “They are pretty young yet, so it is one thing to come in and dominate. They definitely are tasting the success and I don’t think they know what it is like to taste defeat at that level yet. They probably aren’t as excited as they should be about because they don’t know anything but success.”
The long track skaters have been practicing since Dec. 10, but they have been on the ice since October for the short track races. The long track season is about six weeks long because of how long the ice conditions last.
In a tournament like this where the local skaters were competing against the top level skaters from across the country, it was impressive for Moyse to see them perform well throughout their races.
“I have to give kudos to the coaching staff and head coach Verna Kergan. We have a couple good athletes, but she is obviously doing some right if we are able to send four athletes and three have come home with medals,” he said. “Throughout the tournament, in some cases, you saw some athletes dominate the competition and in some cases, there was a rotation through the podium. It shows there is parity across the country and that there is good competition.”
Moose Jaw will host a short track meet on Mar. 9-10 in Caronport at the Barkman Arena. Then the club will travel to Canmore, Atla. on Mar. 23-24 for the Canada West meet.