July 18th, 2024

Lethbridge Speed Skating Association celebrating 50 years

By Lethbridge Herald on October 26, 2023.

Herald FILE photo Mikka Eaves (left) and Preslee Muller of the Lethbridge Speed Skating Association round the corner during the second day of the Lethbridge Bridge Bolt at the ATB Centre in this 2019 file photo. LSSA is celebrating 50 years this yea

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Speed Skating Association is carving the ice into its 50th year in 2023.

LSSA was created in 1973 as a part of the preparation for the 1975 Canada Winter Games in Lethbridge.

“The club was in existence for a while,” said Greg Ogilvie, LSSA treasurer.

“But in the ‘90s it really started to thrive again and it got up to the largest membership it’s had …  at 55 skaters.”

Ogilvie thinks the key points goes to certain individuals who have been  prominent in keeping the club viable in the city.

“I know Jason Beekman was a coach for approximately a decade, and so he put a lot of time and effort into it and then Tim Cooney was a coach for approximately a decade,” he said.

“We’ve had really pivotal coaches that have really helped to maintain the club.”

There have been certain families who have been integral to LSSA such as the Muller, Cooney , Wesseling and Eaves families.

“Their impact on the club has been immeasurable in terms of keeping it going (and) gaining interest within the community,” he said.

There have many notable skaters over the years.

Kaleb Muller competed at the World Junior Championships and came in eighth in the world, and  now is on Team Canada’s NextGen Team training Quebec City.

LSSA has graduated many skaters on to the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

“So, currently, we actually have five members of our club who are currently a part of  the Alberta Development Team, which means that they’re kind of at the elite level of the sport and compete in national level events,” said Ogilvie.

The association had Kyle Winters who was ranked 13th in Canada for short track speed skating in Olympic trials back in the early 2000s.

The 18th  Bridge Bolt meet is here this weekend in conjunction with the 50th year celebration.

“We typically attract around 100 skaters from across the province. Then also B.C. and Saskatchewan have come out to compete,” said Ogilvie.

Following the first day of the Bridge Bolt meet on Saturday , there will be a 50th anniversary celebration at the Brickstone Kitchen and Bar from 8 to 10:30 p.m. where there will be speeches from Tim Cooney and other key past members, a video presentation and attendees will be able to play a trivia game involving the club’s history.

“Yeah, I think it’s pretty amazing in terms of the longevity of the club,” said Ogilvie.

“Because, I mean,  to be honest speed skating is a niche sport. It’s not like hockey where everyone’s so passionate about hockey. But so for us to maintain the club for such a long time and as I said before, to have such great success has been pretty amazing. And I think it just speaks to the quality of our volunteers, and of our coaches and the dedication of the people within the community.”

There are currently nine members who compete and practice.

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