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Duffield working to reach next level


Growing up in Red Deer and skating for the Central Lions Speed Skating Club, Lucas Duffield developed the base that ultimately earned him a berth with the Canadian National speed skating program.

“That’s where I built a lot of the foundation I have,” said Duffield, who was at the Golden Circle Oval Thursday morning for a training session with several national team skaters. He’ll be at the Oval again Saturday as the group trains for an outdoor Canada Cup meet in Quebec.

“I played a lot of sports in Red Deer, and like most athletes, I didn’t specialize in one. I competed in a number of sports from short track and long track speed skating, to cycling and triathlon. It was good to be in a number of sports.”

Duffield still enjoys returning to the Oval.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s been over three years since I’ve been here, but once again we had luck as we have nice weather. We don’t get this much vitamin D in Calgary. It’s like a casino with no sun and no clocks.”

Duffield moved to Calgary in 2006 after graduating high school.

“Since then I’ve juggled being a full-time athlete and a part-time student,” said Duffield, who is working on an arts degree and eventually wants to get an education degree and teach high school.

Since moving to Calgary he’s competed at the national and international level and is just a step away from competing in the Olympics,.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities and experiences I would never have had if I didn’t move to Calgary when I did,” he said.

One of those opportunities was a chance to train in Holland.

“I received an offer from a commercial team in Holland last year and went over in June,” he said. “It was a great experience, and gave me a different perspective on things and gave me a chance to do something different. But I’m glad to be back in Canada as it’s tough to take schooling and train when you’re in Europe. That’s another big factor for coming back.”

He also wants to put his full attention to training to prepare for a shot at the 2014 Olympics in Russia. But concentrating on the 500 and 1,000-metre events means the competition for the 24-year-old is the toughest in the world. In fact he doesn’t get a chance to travel and compete on the World Cup circuit for Canada.

“Ideally I’d be racing World Cups, but it’s such a competitive crew, the top 10 sprinters in the country are separated by a few tenths of a second. Right now I have to be content to be where I am and work toward reaching the next level.

“We have 10 guys who don’t compete in the World Cup who have the times to compete for other countries in the world,” he added.

Duffield has lowered his times over the last couple of years and believes he has the ability to compete at the Olympic level.

“I’ve definitely progressed as I was in the top 25 and now in the top 10, but I need to be in the top 4,” he said. “I did have an injury last year, which hurt my development a bit, so this is a building year for me. I’m building towards next year and the Olympic qualifying. I know I can have times to get there if I put everything together.”

The last two seasons Duffield has been a part of the 2014 talent squad, which was set up by Speed Skating Canada to develop skaters who are not racing in World Cups, but still have World Cup times.

Duffield is still young enough he can look toward the 2018 Olympics if he wants.

“Skaters hit their peak in their mid-20s, so I have time, but I’ll see how it goes the next year or so and then make a decision,” he said. “But I love being an amateur athlete, although it’s not the highest paid profession. Still I love the training every day and the lifestyle. I can see going into 2018.”

Duffield’s sister, Kelsey, is also still involved in the sport. She’s returning to competitive skating after some time off and is currently training in Germany at the Jeremy Wotherspoon academy.

 
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