Every athlete can tell a story of personal loss or growth as they attempt to attain their goals.
For speed skater Maddison Pearman, that story came during junior nationals in Saskatoon, Sask. recently. The 18-year-old skater faced a real challenge as she had been recovering from a skating accident that gave her a concussion last October.
Pearman was taken out by another skater on a corner of a racetrack and spent one month away from hard training. The loss in time meant she fell behind her junior Alberta team counterparts. “It was a pretty bad slip…And that put me down in the rankings.”
Heading to nationals, Pearman knew she was faced with a tough challenge as she was the underdog and a fall early in the first 500m event did not help; she fell to seventh place.
Pearman needed to be in the top four to make it to the nationals team.
That did not stop her from shaking off the dust and trying harder during the 1,000m, 1,500m and 3,000m events. Pearman force herself to regain focus and prepare for the other heats.
Her overall performance was strong, placing fourth and fifth in 1,500m and 1,000m events, respectively, but the one that mattered the most was the 3,000m race. Pearman had to finish at least fourth — as she was fifth overall — for a chance to make the national team.
She had a mental race against herself, because a speed skater who was just ahead of Pearman in points would race in a different 3,000m heat after Pearman. This meant her opponent would know what time was needed to beat the Ponoka athlete.
Watching the girl race and comparing her time to Pearman’s was a stressful moment for both Pearman and her mother.
It was one of Pearman’s best performances of the competition, though and she was faster than the other girl.
“I think it was the best 3,000m I possibly could have skated at that time,” she stated, and her skills are improving daily.
But the committee organizing the national team chose the other girl to represent Canada, which left Pearman devastated.
“I haven’t really dealt with anything like this yet,” she explained.
The decision left her wondering about her future in speed skating. She did some soul-searching, however, and realized the sport is something she loves. Pearman said she is getting stronger as the days progress.
This setback, while tough to deal with, has provided her with the strength and desire to perform better in the future.
“When another adversity happens, I can deal with. I can handle it,” she affirmed.
Her goal is to represent Canada in the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics and this test makes Pearman want to prove to herself and organizers that she deserves to be on the national team.
Pearman trains six days a week with the help of local sponsors such as Rip’N Ronnie’s Fitness and she was able to use a $500 grant, provided by the Town of Ponoka to travel to Saskatoon for nationals.