December 9, 2018 3:15 pm
Updated: December 9, 2018 5:25 pm

New Brunswick speed skating official says sport is ‘growing back up again’ in the province

WATCH: Head coach Derrick MacLeod of the New Brunswick short-track speed skating team feels the sport is approaching another “boom” period, similar to what it experienced nearly 30 years ago. Andrew Cromwell has the latest.

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Head coach Derrick MacLeod of the New Brunswick short-track speed skating team feels the sport is approaching another “boom” period, similar to what it experienced nearly 30 years ago.

That was near the time when Saint John, N.B.-native Mark Lackie was part of the Canadian team that took silver in the 5,000-metre relay at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France.

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“I would like to think we’re starting to grow back up again, and hopefully after Canada Games people get to see some local athletes attending,” said MacLeod.

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MacLeod was in Saint John, N.B., on Sunday for the Charles Gorman Memorial Speed Skating Championships at Harbour Station.

The competition, covering various groups, is named in honour of Gorman, the Saint John man who was a world speed skating champion in the 1920s and is New Brunswick’s first winter Olympian.

MacLeod says that with about 400 competitive skaters in New Brunswick, the sport has always been small in comparison to others.

“We don’t compare to the numbers of hockey or soccer but we do have a very good program,” he explained.

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Now is the time when young athletes are focusing their attention on the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.

That includes John Crawford of Saint John, N.B., who is hoping to land a spot on the New Brunswick long-track team.

“I’ve trained really hard for the past year,” Crawford said. “(I’ve) biked a lot, done all that stuff in the gym and everything.”

New Brunswick has the geographic advantage of sharing a border with Quebec, which is considered a short-track speed skating powerhouse in Canada and around the world.

Skaters have enjoyed the opportunity to travel there and learn from some of the best.

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“For us, we highly rely on being able to sort of test our skills in there,” said MacLeod.

“Compare some notes with the coaches from there, too, because people are pretty open in speed skating in Canada.”

There are currently seven speed skating clubs in the province. MacLeod says some clubs were struggling, and efforts are underway to get them back on track.

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