March 19, 2017 10:37 am
Updated: March 20, 2017 7:48 am

Saskatoon hosting young short track speed skaters at Canada West championship

WATCH ABOVE: Some of the country's fastest young skaters are competing this weekend as the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club hosts the Canada West Short Track Championship. Claire Hanna reports.

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Some of the fastest speed skaters in the country are in Saskatoon this weekend. But instead of pucks and sticks, they prepared with a different set of blades.

The Canada West Short Track Championship is being hosted by the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club (SLSSC).

“Short track especially is very intense, you need a lot of skill because there’s lots of tight turns and lots of jostling,” SLSSC speed skater Joshua Comfort said.

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Josh’s parents, SLSSC head coach Tim and Olympian Brenda Webster, got him into short track when he was five years old. Other club members caught the skating bug from different Olympic sources.

“I’ve been skating since the 2010 season after the Vancouver Olympics,” SLSSC speed skater Dade Meinert said.

“I watched long track on TV, and I was like this is really cool, so I put long underwear on and got my parents to time me running around the apartment building. So I was like ‘Dad I need to get into skating.’”

Skaters from six provinces and territories are competing at the meet.

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The skaters’ position on the start line plays a big role into their technique and strategy in the race. Of course the inside edge is the most advantageous, but depending on where they line up, that plays into how they mentally prepare for the race.

“Be aggressive off the line, and try and stay towards the middle of the pack. And then throughout the race move your way up to the front,” SLSSC speed skater Annika Marshall said.

“Second or third is always a good place to be in a longer race. Because then if the first person breaks or something then you’re up with the group and you won’t get left,” Comfort said.

Many of the Lions have Olympic dreams, and this competition gives them the valuable experience of performing under pressure.

“I’d say I’m pretty confident with my abilities this meet and I have expectations but I’m not worrying about the results,” Meinert said.

The Lions will be going for gold all weekend at SaskTel Centre.

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