After over a year-and-a-half of pandemic related uncertainty, a local athlete is happy to get back into competition.
Currently in Europe training, Ponoka’s Maddison Pearman recently qualified for the World Cup Circuit in long-track speed skating at the Canadian Long Track Championships.
Pearman took the bronze medal in the 1,000-metre race, came in fourth in the 500-metre race — setting a new personal best record — and came in fifth in the 1,500-metre race.
“I’m not really a 500-metre skater,” said Pearman in a phone interview.
“I’m more of a 1000-metre to 1500-metre skater, so it was more of a warm-up for me, and I ended up putting together a solid race and a personal best, which started the weekend on a high for me.”
The championships marked the first competition for Pearman since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was the first time we really raced in 18-months,” said Pearman. “Last year, a very small team raced in Europe. After a year-and-a-half of not racing, it was very nice to get back into race mode. We had a few time trial races to get back into things.”
As part of the Canadian team competing on the World Cup Circuit, Pearman’s first competition will be in Poland from Nov. 12 to 14, followed by Norway Nov. 19 to 21, Salt Lake City, USA Dec. 3 to 5, and will finish the circuit in Calgary Dec. 10 to 12.
“I really had nothing to lose,” said Pearman of trying out and qualifying for the World Cup circuit.
“I’d never been on the World Cup circuit before. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Pearman has not been unhappy with her performance getting back into competition after the long pandemic related break.
“There was a bit of rust,” said Pearman. “I ended up being faster than I was expecting anyway. It wasn’t too hard getting back (into training).”
Pearman, who has been skating for around 20 years, began skating when she was five years old, at the Red Deer Club.
“I did a lot of other skating, but (speed skating) was always the main sport I was interested in,” she said.
In addition to her athletic career, with the pandemic-related break in training, Pearman also has her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, which she graduated from after seven years in June, 2021.
“For a lot of athletes, seven years is great, between skating a full-time job,” said Pearman, with a laugh. The usual length of time for completion of a bachelor’s program is four to five years.
“It worked out great that I graduated last year, and this year being an Olympic year, allowing me to focus on my training.”
Working on the degree kept her busy during the pandemic, however Pearman is grateful for some sense of security having it to fall back on once her skating career is over.
“I’m not done skating, but it’s nice to have something for when I’m finished,” said Pearman.
“We don’t make millions like hockey players; I have to have something to fall back on.”
Looking ahead, Pearman is looking forward to the World Cup Circuit finishing up on home turf, in Calgary, allowing her for some time off before Olympic trials in Quebec in December.
“It’s nice to be able to fly home and finish off the World Cup Circuit at home,” said Pearman.
Pearman’s time at home will be short-lived, though. With Olympic trials beginning Dec. 27, Pearman and the rest of the team will fly out Dec. 20 to get acclimatized to track, preparing for the trials.
“Unfortunately, Christmas is in Quebec this year, but if I make the Olympics, it will make it all worthwhile.”