The snow is finally looking like it may leave for good and already Alberta’s amateur speed skaters are entering training mode.
Over the weekend of May 4 approximately 30 young athletes from as far away as Lethbridge and Peace River congregated at the Ponoka curling rink to kick off training season under the watchful eye of some very special guests: Olympians Jessica Gregg, Kaylin Irvine and Danielle Wotherspoon-Gregg.
“We generally have a camp to start off the training season,” said Red Deer club coach Shawna Pearman.
“It’s the Alberta development skaters,” explained Gregg.
The training clinic is an annual event and has been held in Ponoka for the last several years because of the town’s central location. “We kind of just set technical drills. There’s some good pointers to work on over the summer before they get back on the ice,” said Gregg.
The non-mandatory clinic attracts the most dedicated young skaters of the sport. “They’re all fairly competitive in their age groups,” said Gregg.
Pearman says the clinic hasn’t always had these internationally ranked skaters come coach in the past but it is something she wants to happen more often.
It would benefit the young skaters who are moving their way up through the sport as well as promote the sustainability and superstars of speed skating throughout the province, says Pearman.
This year Alberta had seven skaters compete in Sochi, Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics as part of the Canadian team; the other 10 came from different parts of the country. “Skating is doing well in Alberta,” said Pearman.