The Olympic Oval in Calgary has been closed for business since September, not due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather a mechanical failure with the ice plant, with repairs not expected to be finished until late January.
So with no long tracks to skate on, Winnipeg’s Tyson Langelaar and some other members of the Long Track National Team headed outdoors to a frozen lake near Canmore, Alta.
“We just kinda went out to try it out,” Langelaar said. “We had a training plan that we ended up being able to do. We kinda just went out and winged it a bit, cause we really didn’t know how great the ice was. It was a little bumpy, but it did the trick for us. It was just really nice to go out and realize it actually works.”
Langelaar posted the training video on Twitter earlier this week, and it’s already garnered nearly 100,000 views. Skating out in the cold with uncontrolled conditions was giving him flashbacks to his days out on the ice at the Susan Auch Oval in Winnipeg.
“It was kind of a shocker to get back out on the cold ice, especially with no socks in the skates,” he said. “I’ve been out in Calgary for three and a half years now, so I’m kinda used to the indoor, warmer training facilities.
“When it was colder I was trying to use some old tricks I used in Winnipeg to keep my hands warm. It was definitely a new experience.”
Langelaar had a ton of success as a junior, winning four medals at the World Junior Championships in 2017. This was supposed to be the 21-year-old’s second full season on the World Cup circuit, but it’s been spoiled by the raging pandemic.
“It’s been challenging,” said Langelaar. “There is a possibility for a bubble-like event to take place in the Netherlands, but that is not official yet.”
Despite the struggle to find suitable ice in the Calgary area, while skaters around the world keep training, Langelaar still has his sights set on a spot at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
“I think it’s within reach,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult, but that’s why we’re all in it. We want to represent Canada on the biggest stage.”