Fall is on the horizon, which means ice sports are starting to ramp things up and that includes NWT Speed Skating.
It hosted its annual summer camp, which wrapped up on Sunday, with skaters from Yellowknife, Inuvik and Fort Simpson among the attendees. They were put through their paces with both on-ice and dry land training over the course of the five-day camp.
The coaching staff included Debby Fisher of Calgary, a regular visitor to Yellowknife who was at the camp for the first time in several years, along with Todd Landon of Halifax, who was back for a second year to help out as a guest instructor.
Hannah Clark, who once toiled in the camp as a participant when she lived in Yellowknife, was back for another year as a coach. She’s based out of Calgary, where she attends the University of Calgary.
“It’s always a good excuse to come home,” she said about the camp. “As a coach, I’m thinking way more steps ahead than I did as a skater, when I thought of the one technical focus. Now, I’m trying to think of technical tips for five skaters at once so there’s a lot more going on.”
On the ice, the skaters were given instruction on things such as drafting, attacking and skating technique while the dry land worked on general fitness and aerobics.
“Technique was first and foremost this weekend because it is the start of a new season,” said Clark. “That gives them a good base for the rest of the year but having competed down south, I learned a lot about the tactics of short track with a variety of athletes from all over so I’m trying to prepare these guys to skate with a higher calibre.”
Working on tactics is always fun, especially when skaters see and try things for the first time, she added.
“It’s fun to see them try passing in a way they hadn’t thought about before,” she said. “Instead of passing to get to the front of the pack, you can pass to get into second or into a strategic place in a race or learn to pass at the right moment.”
Someone who’s set to have another big year is Wren Acorn, who was one of the participants in the camp. Acorn is coming off a season which saw her compete at the Canadian Junior Short Track Championships as one of the youngest skaters in the competition.
She said the biggest bonus for her was being able to work on drills, which is always important.
“We’re all in a group, reacting to little things such as when to move and you can always learn new things from that,” she said. “Hannah gave us little tips here and there so technically, it’s been a lot of reviewing and it’s been good.”
The camp was also part preparation for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., and Acorn is expected to challenge for a spot on the girls team.
There are several requirements in order to be considered for the team and the camp was one of them, she said.
“Attendance at the camp was part of it,” she said. “This is the beginning of the season for a lot of us because no one has really been on the ice since April. We’re all just getting back into things and we’re getting our feet under us.”