Dozens of speed skaters from across Alberta gathered at the Kinex Arena on Saturday to compete in an annual Short-track Speed Skating Meet hosted by the Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club.
Club Registrar and Assistant Meet Recorder Alison Wigelsworth, says it’s one of the first meets of the new season every year.
“The age groups we have at the meet today are everything from Active Start, which are five-year olds, all the way up to Train to Train 15-year-olds,” said Wigelsworth. “The Train to Train kids are the older kids who would qualify for the Alberta Winter Games in February.”
Wigelsworth says 82 skaters from Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer registered for the day-long event, adding that the main goals are that they all have fun and learn some of the rules of competition in a friendly, supportive environment.
“One of the great things about speed skating in Alberta is that the kids sort of move up through the divisions together and they see each other at races all over the province. So they develop some life-long friendships and really, we just want them to have fun and learn more about the sport,” explains Wigelsworth.
She points out the speed skating season starts at the end of September or early October every year and continues until March.
“Right now we’re in short-track season. In around mid-December to early January, we’ll move outside to the long-track, the new Canada Winter Games facility at Great Chief Park and then towards the end of February, we move back inside for short-track,” said Wigelsworth. “So this is the first meet that most of our skaters have been at.”
She says there’s other short-track meets at the end of the month in Rocky Mountain House and one next week in Edmonton as well.
“Some of our skaters do have goals around qualifying for the Alberta Winter Games in Wood Buffalo in February and also next year for the Canada Winter Games.”
The Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club has been in Red Deer for 65 years and now looks forward to continuing its future long-track events at Great Chief Park, while continuing short-track competitions at the Kinex Arena. Long-track events were previously held at the Golden Circle.
Wiglesworth encourages anyone interested in becoming involved in speed skating, to visit their website, adding “Open Try-Nights” are free.
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