While sport takes a break during the COVID-19 pandemic, what isn’t taking a break is Wren Acorn.
Acorn is still doing her thing – training, talking and learning – until that time she’s able to go back to Calgary and get back to her on-ice training, which is scheduled to happen around the end of June.
“That’s when the ice is supposed to be back in at the (Olympic) oval,” she said. “It’s all up to the University of Calgary and what its plans are but right now, we’re expecting to have ice ready for that time.”
It will be a welcome return for Acorn and one she’s looking forward to, unlike the way her season ended back in March.
It was the Canada Cup Short Track Final on home ice in Calgary at the Olympic Oval. Acorn had qualified for this event based on her performance from Canada Cup Short Track #2 in Sherbrooke, Que., the month prior. Her preparation was such that she skated the fastest lap time of the season and wanted a crack at the best in the country.
National team and NextGen spots were on the line. And then on the Thursday afternoon before things were set to begin, the hammer dropped.
“We’re all ready to go, we’re sizing each other up and they cancelled it,” said Acorn. “I had a practice to get myself revved up and it’s over. We weren’t expecting there to be a cancellation because everyone’s there and this is the last good chance to make the junior development team.”
As it stands, Acorn will now get the chance to race in September in a modified qualifier for the national team. Instead of having the World Cup trials in September, which is usually when they’re held, there will be one event with 40 skaters in each gender – top-ranked 32 (of which Acorn is), five skaters from the World Cup teams and three medical bye entries – to determine the national teams for the season.
Acorn has been doing all sorts of off-ice training in order to keep in shape once the on-ice portion gets going again. Following a month off, Acorn began two-a-days four times per week and two single days of one workout, a routine she says is lighter than normal but heavier on frequency.
“It sets the stage for this time of year because you train longer and more often in the summer,” she said. “When the on-ice season begins, you try to keep the training sessions short because of the on-ice work you’re doing.”
Part of that training includes online sessions through Zoom calls with her fellow athletes including those from the U.S., the Netherlands and New Zealand.
“We’re all getting our programs online because even though the world is on pause right now, we keep on training,” said Acorn. “You’re just limited sometimes to what you can do.”
Acorn has been in Yellowknife since the pandemic and she said she knows she’s living in a place which seems to have everything under control.
“We live in kind of a good bubble here in the NWT,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine what other provinces and countries are going through because we have it locked down pretty good here. Calgary is much different because of the severity of the threat there and I remind myself of that. We’re in uncharted waters and who knows what it will all look like when it comes to an end?”
When she’s able to go back to Calgary, Acorn said she knows things may look a bit different both on and off the ice.
“The gatherings are still a question: how many people will be allowed to be together?,” she said. “We all just have to adapt to everything and there may be a new sense of normalcy we’ll have to get used to.”