Speedskating is about more than just competition, says the head coach of the Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club.
More than 100 speedskaters from around the province, between ages four and 16, competed in the club’s annual short track race at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre Saturday.
“For some of these kids, this is their life. They live and breathe for practice, racing and the social aspect of it. As you wander around here you’ll see groups of kids just hanging out and doing what kids should be doing,” said coach Nick Schultz.
“As they progress in the sport throughout the years, the training changes and they’ll become more disciplined and focused. But still the social aspect of this is a huge important thing for us. We’re here to have fun. The minute these sports aren’t fun, they aren’t as enjoyable for the kids.”
This is the first year the short track race was hosted at the Gary W. Harris rink – the club trains at the Kinex Arena.
“This is a great bonus for us to able able to use this arena, with more spectator opportunities,” Schultz said.
It was a busy day at the short track race, he added.
“Most of the races have time constraints, which limits the amount of registered skaters you can have. We maxed our registrations out at 130 skaters for this meet.
“We have skaters from as far south as Lethbridge … and typically we do see most of the Alberta clubs having representation here,” said Schultz.
The club will host two events in February: a long track race and a national-level race.
“There will be skaters representing each province and territory at that one,” said Schultz.
Schultz said, like many sports groups, the speedskating club is always looking to grow.
“There are only so many young athletes to go around. In sports in general there are some lower numbers than maybe they’d like to see, but there are a lot of options out there for kids. As long as kids are busy, we’re happy,” he said.