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BOXED IN – Lucas Taggart-Cox (120) competes during the RU Fast speed skating meet, held in Calgary last weekend. Photo by RYAN HICKMAN

Whitehorse Rapids skaters prove their speed at RU Fast meet in Calgary

Seven skaters from the Whitehorse Rapids Speed Skating Club travelled to the Olympic Oval in Calgary for the RU Fast meet last weekend.

By freelancer on March 10, 2017

Seven skaters from the Whitehorse Rapids Speed Skating Club travelled to the Olympic Oval in Calgary for the RU Fast meet last weekend.

This year’s meet had 270 skaters, aged five to 75 years, registered to race. For three of the seven local skaters, it was their first race outside the Yukon.

Adelle Anderson, 11, just started skating this season and she was the only Yukoner competing in the L2T half of the competition where the beginner and younger skaters are seeded. Anderson seemed to find the competition both exhilarating and overwhelming at times throughout the weekend. She came through with personal best times for all the distances she raced while also having to bounce back from a collision with another skater and a couple of falls, including a bitterly disappointing stumble that cost her a victory in the 500m distance.

Anderson showed terrific resilience by coming back smiling each time, a critical strength in a sport where things can often go wrong and competitors need to move on and focus on the next race.

Lisa Freeman, 12, skated at RU Fast last year as an L2T but moved up to the more competitive T2T side of the meet this year. Freeman had a breakthrough set of races, setting personal best times across all distances and winning her 200m, 1,500m and 3,000m finals.

She had faster starts and showed increased experience in being more assertive by holding her position as skaters jostled for position in the pack. She drove her coach crazy by hanging at or near the back of the pack in the longer races before turning on the jets near the end to pass the other skaters and take first place.

“All I could hear was Tracy yelling, ‘Move up Lisa, move up!’ the whole time,” laughed Freeman.

Tracy Hillis is the Calgary-area coach who came to Whitehorse for the club’s January camp and helped the Yukon team at this meet. She did not want Freeman spending too much time at the back of the pack where collisions and falls are more frequent.

Tristan Muir, 14, was the most experienced of the Yukon team but the unpredictable nature of short track speed skating was on display as he was taken down by another skater’s fall in his first race.

“I couldn’t believe the guy fell on a straight-away and took me right out,” said Muir.

The fall bruised his hip but he appeared to shake it off and posted a personal best while winning his next race, a 200m heat.

Unfortunately, the hip continued to bother him and Muir lost an edge and fell on the same hip during the 1,500m final.

He could not skate in his 200m final but treatment of the injury through the afternoon and evening allowed him to return to race the next day, posting a solid second place in his 400m final and fourth in the 3,000m final.

Anders Petersson, 13, like his teammate Freeman, competed as an L2T at last year’s RU Fast but moved up to the T2T side this year. Petersson had a solid meet, placing second in his 200m final and third in his 400m final despite his slower starts off the line, a severe handicap for sprint races. He posted a very good personal best time over the 1,500m distance, taking eight seconds off his previous best effort. And, although he dreaded the very tough 3,000m distance, Petersson rose to the challenge and skated a solid race, posting a personal best.

Joshua Lauer, 14, was skating in his first meet outside of the Yukon and did very well across the board. He posted personal best times for the 200m and 1,500m distances (including taking an impressive 13 seconds off his 1,500m time) and placed second in his 400m final despite not skating his fastest time over that distance. It was the 3,000m race, though, the last race of the meet, that proved to be the highlight for Lauer.

Prior to the meet, he did not want to race the distance, preferring to take on the much less challenging 800m race available to less experienced skaters. But he was glad that he agreed to the longer distance as he skated to second place in his final.

“This is my new favourite distance,” he said between gasps for breath at the end of the race.

Simon Lauer, Joshua’s twin brother, was also skating in his first meet outside the Yukon. Simon had a breakthrough meet, posting personal bests for all the distances raced. He placed second in his 200m final, fourth in his 400m final and third in his 1500m final where he took more than 14 seconds off his previous best time. Like some of his teammates, Simon was dreading the 3000m final but more than rose to the challenge, laying down a new personal best on his way to third place in his final.

Lucas Taggart-Cox, 11, has short track racing experience and was seeded up in the T2T portion of the meet. Taggart-Cox responded to the challenge of racing against the older competition by posting personal best times for all the distances.

He won his 400m final and placed second in his 200m final. In his 3,000m final he took more than 30 seconds off his previous best time and showed a lot of endurance, out-lasting his competition to win the race despite his general preference for shorter distances.

“I’ve never skated so fast in my life,” was Taggart-Cox’s summary of the competition.

By Malcolm Taggart Special to the Star

Comments (1)

Up 1 Down 0

Suzette Freeman on Mar 11, 2017 at 10:04 am

Lisa Freeman my beautiful granddaughter did a grand job and I am soo proud of her. Bravo Lisa and your team mates.

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