The Red Deer Speed Skating Club said goodbye to the Golden Circle Oval on Saturday.
It was the final long track speed skating meet for the club this season and also the last one they will have before a move to Great Chief Park next year for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
The meet may have been smaller than some in the past, compressed into one day instead of two, but the ice was perfect for the sendoff, despite unseasonably warm temperatures said organizers.
“It was great, beautiful day,” Red Deer club head coach Shawna Pearman said. “Great that the sun didn’t come out…the ice was great, we ended off, the kids skated a 5000-metre race and there were probably 40 kids out there skating.”
Pearman said giving the young athletes the chance to measure themselves against one another is something they look forward to all season long. She said for many of them it is about doing something they never thought they could do.
“They get excited to place first and that’s the first time they’ve ever done that, so it’s a great accomplishment,” she said.
Red Deer skater Brandon O’Connell was the fastest in Division 1, collecting a full 4,000 points with first place finishes in the 100m, 300m and 500m races.
Brinley Davidson of Red Deer edged out a win in Division 2 with 3,448 points. She finished first in the 300m mass start and second in both the 500m and 100m. Rachel O’Connell was second and Theron Anderson of Edmonton was third.
Leah Anderson of Edmonton was the Division 3 winner, Erin Findlay of Red Deer was second and teammate James Wigelsworth was third.
Cowyn Godlonton from Rocky Mountain House was first in Division 4, with Jessica Spruit of Red Deer second and Allan Hawkins of Red Deer coming in third.
Sophia Cross of Calgary was first in Division 5, Thomasina Anne Payne of Red Deer was second and Jordan Findlay also of Red Deer was third.
Skaters from Calgary, Lethbridge, Edmonton and Rocky Mountain House joined the Red Deer club for the meet.
For three Red Deer skaters, their season will continue in Edmonton next weekend at the Age Class Championships.
“There’s so little opportunity for racing outdoors,” Pearman said. “It’s a great tune up for them.”
For the rest of the clubs and skaters that competed, Pearman said just getting out on the ice was great to see.
“Most of them are just trying so hard, going out and skating their best and that’s so important,” she said.