Maddison Pearman is the defacto host for Speed Skating Canada’s national team.
The Ponoka native and her Canadian teammates have been on the ice in Red Deer over the past several weeks, getting ready for a 2021 long track speed skating season that may or may not happen.
Pearman grew up skating in Red Deer as a member of the Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club and has also coached with the club.
She said it’s always a thrill to be back on the ice, especially at a facility as nice as the Setters Place Oval at Great Chief Park.
“That facility is so nice, the guys do such a great job with the ice. I think everyone has been pretty amazed by it,” said Perman, a member of Speed Skating Canada’s next generation program.
“Most of us have grown up skating outdoors… the season has been so up and down, it’s just nice to have some sort of consistency.”
That consistency has been lacking since September when the Calgary oval, where Canada trains had a malfunction and may not be ready for skating until May. That led the team to call Red Deer its unofficial home over the next month and a half.
Some of Canada’s top long track speed skaters are taking advantage of the outdoor oval in Red Deer, home of the @2019CanadaGames.
— Speed Skating Canada | Patinage de Vitesse Canada (@SSC_PVC) December 17, 2020
Pearman said this year has been one of the toughest of her young career, just not knowing from day-to-day what the future holds. Especially in a pre-Olympic year, when she was expecting to boost her international resume ahead of the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
“Skating being my main job– the main thing that I look forward too, it’s been really hard, just not knowing what’s going on even day-by-day… that has been a really big struggle mentally,” said Pearman, who turns 25 next month.
“Getting up every day and training for nothing right now. We all do the sport because we love to race and not being able to do that has been really hard.”
The last time Pearman competed was over a year ago, in a World Cup event at the Calgary Oval, with plenty of friends and family in attendance. After six weeks of training, just before the next world cup, the sports world came to a halt.
Motivation has been hard to come by since.
“At the beginning of the season, it was a little bit easier to motivate yourself and get going. Now that it’s nine months later, it’s been pretty tough to stay motivated and I think my biggest thing for myself is having mini goals every day about what I want to accomplish,” she said.
That everyday motivation these days comes from her teammates, who she says have become like a second family during the pandemic. And the other driving factor is school– she’s just one semester short of finishing off her degree at the University of Calgary.
“That’s something that’s kept me more positive,” she said.
Like any elite athlete, Pearman still yearns for competition. She is itching to race again, even if it is just a fun race with her teammates in Red Deer.
For now, she has her sights set firmly on making the Olympics in 2022 – only she knows most of what happens in the next year is beyond her control.
“It’s focusing on the controllables. The majority of things that are happening right now are out of our control… you’ve gotta focus on the day-by-day, what you can accomplish and that’s been helping me,” she said.