July 12th, 2024

Qualifier has local skaters ready for short track championships

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on March 2, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Denise Wesseling of the Lethbridge Speed Skating Association rounds the corner at the 2022 Qualifying Event for the Canadian Youth Short Track Saturday afternoon at the ATB Centre.

Wyatt Scratch has a need for speed.
Last weekend at the 2022 CYST West Qualifier, the nine-year-old member of the Lethbridge Speed Skating Association addressed that need at his first speed skating event.
“It’s been going good. I like to go really fast,” said Scratch during the second day of the event Sunday afternoon at the ATB Centre.
Evidently, racing against the clock didn’t intimidate Scratch, who swapped out hockey skates for speed skates last year and transitioned nicely into the sport.
“I won once (Saturday) and I got second place (Sunday) in my last race,” he said.
Scratch’s switch from one ice sport to another started last September.
“I didn’t want to do hockey anymore and we found speed skating,” he said.
The switch in skates from hockey to speed skating also agreed with Scratch, who, as of Sunday afternoon, was getting ready for two more events.
“They’re different, you can skate faster with these.”
That speed ultimately earned Scratch 522 points, good for 11th place in the Ability Mixed Genders Division.
After making his debut last weekend, Scratch has an event coming up in Red Deer and another back at the ATB Centre after that.
However, for the majority of the skaters, last weekend was the second qualifier for the 2022 Qualifying Event for the Canadian Youth Short Track Championship West, which will take place March 26-27 in Selkirk, Man.
On hand to help oversee the second qualifier last weekend at the ATB Centre was Lorelei St. Rose, the technical director of Speed Skating Alberta.
“We had one (qualifying event) in November in Edmonton and this is our second and final qualifying event,” she said. “So all the skaters come from all the different age groups and compete for placement and for time. Some have a 200m race and a 400m race and those are all based strictly on time. The faster your time is, the higher you rank.”
There is also a 1,500m race, which is more based on the skater’s overall ranking within their age group.
“It’s not based on time, it’s just raced a bit differently,” said St. Rose. “It’s more strategy, that’s why it’s more of a ranking. Then they do a 2,000m points race for younger grouping and a 3,000m points race for the older group. It’s based on their overall ranking in their age group in that race. We take the top-three of the four events and that’s their overall ranking.”
The Canadian Youth Short Track Championship West is held on a rotation between Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, said St. Rose.
“We each get two people in every age group, the top-two are automatically in. Then it goes back up to the top and we keep filling the divisions until they’re full. So sometimes you don’t know how many people you’ll have in which groups or how deep you’re going to go. We have anywhere from six to 11 per division which will be ranked and we’ll see how deep we go. You can have a team of up to 40 kids go.”
Last weekend, the LSAA took on the role of hosts for the second qualifier as the Alberta skaters eyed up a trip to Selkirk.
“I think that’s full kudos to the team of Cherise (Eaves, LSSA Meet Coordinator and Club Registrar) and the team at the Lethbridge Club,” said St. Rose. “They’ve really pulled it together. It’s really manned by every skater whose family comes from Edmonton, Calgary and Lloydminster.”
That also includes lots of parental volunteers.
“It’s a huge event, putting it on,” said St. Rose. “We also have photo-finish where we actually capture a slice of time and we can get exact (times) down to the third decimal point of their time. Once they get all their times submitted from every province, they are seeded based on their seed times. The seed times really are important.”
After the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta comes in as the defending champions from 2019.
“I think you want to be competitive and field a good team,” said St. Rose. “We’ve already organized practises in Calgary for people to come and do relay practices. Relays are part of the championship.”
St. Rose’s son competed in the event in Edmonton in 2016 when it was called the Can West.
“So it’s a nice building block for these kids to move through,” she said. “It’s great for the kids. It’s social, especially coming off the pandemic, but we’re doing all these things. We’re having competitions. We’re back on the championships after missing it for two years. We need to do it for our youth.”
A pair of LSAA placed top-two in the T2T 2 male division as Braeden Kremenik took first with 3,666 points and Zakhary Adelman placed second with 2,777 points.
In the T2T 1 male category, Gavin Ogilvie took fourth place (2,323 points).
Claire Peake took top spot in the Ability Mixed Genders division with 3,448 points.
Cooper Jensen placed 10th with 616 points and Scratch took 11th.
In the T2T 2 female division Denise Wesseling posted 1,121 points to place seventh and Marie Cormier (424 points), placed 12th.
Zosia Adelman took sixth place in the T2T 1 female division with 1,576 points.
Zoe Wesseling (1,260 points) placed eighth in the same division.
A trio of LSAA skaters were at the 2022 Western Elite Circuit #2 short track race at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.
Mikka Eaves raced to fifth place in the Group 1 Female Division with 14,677 points.
In the Group 1 Male Division, Riley Vanderburgh took 19th with 469 points and Mitchell Wesseling was 20th with 374.

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