Some sports may look pretty easy on TV, but in reality, that’s not always the case.
It takes a special person to rip across the ice, going more than 50 kilometres an hour while balancing on blades that are 1.1 millimetres thick.
It’s all in a day’s work for Team Canada speedskaters.
Members of Canada’s long-track team hit the ice with summer Olympians, members of the Calgary Stampeders, Calgary Flames alumni and local reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
It turns out, the mindset of a pro athlete is universal.
“The moment the gun went off, I was in compete mode,” Stampeders defensive back Dagogo Maxwell said.
The skillset, however, that may not be so universal.
“Pretty wobbly, I’ll tell you that. The only goal is to not fall,” Maxwell said.
“It’s like wearing a running shoe — a low-cut running shoe,” said former Calgary Flame Brendan Morrison.
“We’re so used to wearing skates that go above your ankle, so you don’t feel very stable.”
The groups split into several teams for a timed relay race.
It went better for some than others.
“You don’t see a lot of people who have done it for the first time that can do crossovers already, or pick up the start really quickly.”
The real talent will be on display Feb. 7-8 at the Olympic Oval, as more than 200 athletes from 27 countries vie for the podium at the International Speedskating Union World Cup.
Competitors say the venue makes the competition even tougher.
“It’s the fastest ice in the world,” Weidemann noted. “Because Calgary is at altitude, the ice is faster in here.
“The ice maintenance is so good, and it’s shown in the fact we have so many world records that are broken here every year.”
Five of the current men’s world records in speedskating have been set at the Olympic Oval, while the women’s side has recorded four world records in the building.
The weekend will also see new banners rising in the hall of champions.
On Saturday, a special ceremony will mark the official retirement of the legendary Denny Morrison, and honour Canada’s women’s pursuit team from the 2006 Turin Olympics.
The silver medal-winning group is made up of Kristina Groves, Clara Hughes, Cindy Klassen, Christine Nesbitt and Shannon Rempel.
While Wednesday’s test drive fell shy of competition speeds, Brendan Morrison left the Oval with a final thought.
“I think they’d bury us hockey players all day long,” he said.