Eleven-year-old Liliana Fisher admits she had a wobbly start to speed skating, but after getting a message from Canadian Olympic speed skater Clara Hughes, is inspired to strive to be an Olympian herself.
Fisher has been speed skating with the Esquimalt Speed Skating Club at Archie Browning Sports Centre for about two-and-a-half years. She started after watching the winter Olympics with her great grandmother, who was also a speed skater.
“I was like ‘I’m done with lacrosse I’m going to do speed skating now’,” Fisher said. “It’s so fun and it’s fast and it’s a thrill.”
The message from Hughes came after Fisher’s grandmother posted a photo of her skating on Instagram. She responded to Hughes, telling her how she just learned crossovers and is practicing really hard but has had a difficult start.
“[Hughes] said when she first started speed skating she could barely use speed skates but she learned how to balance and practiced as much as she could and that led her to the Olympics,” Fisher said. “It was really cool and inspirational.”
Now, Fisher practices three times a week and won the most improved skater award last year.
Jody Fairbairn, a member of the board and volunteer with the Esquimalt Speed Skating Club said Liliana has greatly improved her skills.
“When you start a sport that requires such intricate technique it’s kind of slow at the beginning when all these kids want to do is go fast,” Fairbairn said. “Liliana has been really steadfast in trying to improve.”
The speed skating club has 25 skaters varying from age five to above 60 years old. The club is always looking for more members and hosts an event on Dec. 17 in honour of Speed Week with the BC Speed Skating Association.
Speed Week involves races across the province in a virtual competition to find the province’s fastest skater in each age group. The association coordinates a race board with names of every individual who competes and their age.
The event at the Archie Browning Sports Centre is Dec. 17 from 6 to 7:20 p.m., is open to the public and will feature a bake sale.
Those looking for more information about Speed Week can e-mail ESSCspeedweek@gmail.com.
Find more information about the club at esquimaltspeedskating.org.