By Jensen, Randy on February 13, 2018.
This will be Jenna Vanderburgh’s first Alberta Winter Games; ditto for her younger brother Riley.
The 16-year-old figure skater and the 13-year-old speedskater will be heading north for this year’s Alberta Winter Games running Friday through Monday in Fort McMurray, featuring nearly 2,000 athletes in 22 sports at 11 venues.
However, as the siblings get ready for their first appearance at the provincial event, they do so with ample preparation.
For Jenna, that meant a full dress rehearsal complete with some professional feedback.
For Riley, that meant putting on the laps at a home tournament two weekends ago.
As Riley raced in the Lethbridge Speed Skating Association-hosted Bridge Bolt Feb. 3-4 at the ATB Centre, Jenna was on the other sheet of ice, fine-tuning her program under a judge’s watchful eyes.
“I recently did a program simulation,” said Jenna. “A judge came in and gave me some feedback on it. We got on our dresses and did our programs to the music and a judge watched it and told us what they’re looking for and what we need to improve before we go to the games. It helps me in my training and practising to know what I need to practise more and what to work on.”
Meanwhile, her younger brother raced the clock at the Bridge Bolt in a final tuneup before the Winter Games.
Riley placed third in the Division 1, Mixed Genders division, taking second in the 200-metre race with a time of 23.52, sixth in the 1,500m and third in the 400m with a time of 43.50.
“It’s the first year I’ve been eligible,” he said of the Winter Games. “I’m really excited. It’ll be a great experience for me. I’ll hopefully win and medal, and if I don’t, I know it’ll help me in all my future meets.”
In addition to the Bridge Bolt, Riley has kept himself busy, even if it wasn’t in front of a judge like his older sister.
“Usually I end up going to a meet once every month or two, then practices three days a week and workouts two days a week.”
Beyond the Games in Fort McMurray is the possibility of competing in the Canadian Western Championships March 17-18 in Abbotsford.
Alberta gets two spots in each group by gender and possibly one extra spot.
The Lethbridge Speed Skating Association has a few more members who will be at the Games who will be featured in an upcoming story.
Meanwhile, Jenna is hoping those simulated skates will pay off in Fort McMurray.
“I’m excited and looking forward to the experience,” she said. “I hope to run a clean program, land every jump and place in the top half.”
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