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‘It’s a thrill at every level’: DDO hosts regional speed skating championships

WATCH: Speed skaters take over DDO Civic Centre

The sport of speed skating has gotten a boost in the West Island.

In December, Global News visited the Dollard-des-Ormeaux Speed Skating Club which was struggling to stay alive due to low membership.

Since that visit, the number of skaters has almost doubled.

WATCH: West Island speed skating club with Olympian coach in danger of closing down

DDO speed skating club looking for new members
DDO speed skating club looking for new members

Paul Gervasi, who’s in charge of equipment at the club and a parent volunteer, said watching the numbers go up has been a relief.

“We worked so hard to increase these numbers and most of the kids that come and try, enjoy and stay,” he said.

Things are looking up.

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The DDO club is hosting the Western Division Liliane-Lambert Regional Championship over the weekend with some help from the Montreal Speed Skating Federation.

Skaters race at the Dollard-des-Ormeaux Civic Centre for the regional championships. Saturday, March 2, 2019.
Skaters race at the Dollard-des-Ormeaux Civic Centre for the regional championships. Saturday, March 2, 2019. Sebasatien Gagnon-Dorval/Global News

“We have about 22 clubs from all around Montreal, as far as Gatineau, who have come to do their final competition of the season. All the finals are being held here,” Gervasi said proudly.

READ MORE: West Island speed skating club gets boost in membership

Around 260 skaters, between the ages of 7 to 12, will be taking to the ice at the Dollard-des-Ormeaux Civic Centre in the two-day meet.

“It’s a thrill at every level,” Gervasi said of watching the kids compete.

“Whether big or small, you want them to get around and finish their race and not bump in to anything.”

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Athletes taking part in the meet were in for a surprise with a special guest appearance from former team alumni and Sochi Olympian Mackenzie Blackburn.

“He’ll be here showing the kids about skating,” Gervasi said.

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The DDO skaters might be a bit harder to impress, however, as one of their own coaches is a two-time Olympian.

“We have our own Alanna Kraus,” Gervasi said, adding she had won silver and bronze medals at the Salt Lake City and Turin Olympics.

The mayors of DDO, Beaconsfield, Kirkland and Pierrefonds-Roxboro will also be making an appearance during medal ceremonies.

For Gervasi, the presence of the West Island mayors is a testament to the efforts being made to promote speed skating in the area.

“We’ve had great participation from cities around the West Island. We’re starting to be recognized as the West Island speed skating club,” he said.