After winning a silver and a bronze medal in the 2012 Alberta Winter Games, speed skater Tess Pearman is ready for more action.
The 15-year-old is ranked first in Alberta in her age group and finds the experience has boosted her confidence and focus. Pearman will be racing against 16 to 20 other speed skaters in different meets: the 200m, 400m, 1,500m and the 3,000m races. There is also a relay race.
Getting to this level of speed skating took strong focus as the Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association ranks athletes on overall points in different events. Pearman said her strength lies in the 1,500m race.
“It’s not a sprint but it’s not really long (track). It’s more strategy,” she explained.
Skaters must pace themselves in the longer races and cannot just sprint the whole distance. They need a good understanding of the track and how other skaters are reacting. Pearman said the trick is to know when to lead the pack or to follow behind. “You have to be thinking ahead.”
The 3,000m race poses other challenges as racers earn points based on how well they handle the track. Pearman’s coach and mother Shawna, said an athlete could win that race even if they did not place first.
“It’s a very exciting race,” added Shawna.
Pearman is ranked first in both the long and short track events and has ramped up training to three days a week in preparation for the games. Training sessions are intense workouts and involve skating and dry land training. She knows everyone has their eyes on first place.
These training sessions also include proper starting, sprints, relay practices, anaerobic exercise and interval training; for the latter, Pearman skates 500m and then slow skates for 500m; she will do this nine or 10 times before taking a break.
“You’re not fully rested. Your work to rest ratio is 1-1,” explained Shawna.
Despite the competition, the speed skating community is relatively small, so off the ice, Pearman gets along well with the other athletes.
She follows her sisters Brooke and Maddison, who have previously competed in the winter games.