Speedskaters Finn Fairbairn, left, and Colin Matthews line up at the start line in the Archie Browning Sports Centre. The pair will be part of the Zone 6 Island team for the upcoming B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

BC WINTER GAMES: Esquimalt speedskaters up for provincial challenge

Clubmates competing in U16 events in Kamloops Feb.22 to 25

Before the Esquimalt Speedskating Club’s top-level athletes begin on-ice workouts at the Archie Browning Sports Centre, they get to have some fun with younger skaters.

In what seems to be skating’s version of dodgeball, those gathered around the edges of the rink toss round lane markers toward the youngsters, who skate from one end to the other trying to avoid the rubber missiles.

Finn Fairbairn of Victoria and Colin Matthews of Esquimalt, age 15 and 14, respectively, are among the skaters doing the tossing on this day. As young “veterans” with the club, they remember their early days learning the ropes of this challenging sport, both having started when they were eight.

Next weekend (Feb. 22 to 25) their clubmates will be monitoring their progress as the boys will be in Kamloops representing Zone 6-Vancouver Island/Central Coast in under-16 events at the B.C. Winter Games.

It’s the second time around for Matthews, who got his first taste of this Olympic-style event in Penticton in 2016. He recalls the jump from the regional “mini-meets” on the Island to the Winter Games being a “big step” for him at the time, especially since he was slightly younger than many in the under-14 category.

“BC Games was like a whole new level for me, and this year I’m excited for it again,” he says. Competing against older skaters, and in a longer meet, was a real test, he recalls. “Two days of skating required a lot of sleep. Getting to bed early and waking up and doing the same thing again was a big change for me.”

While his results were middle of the pack, he believes he improved a lot from the experience and has seen significant improvement in his times since then.

All skaters at the Winter Games must race in all events, including two separate 500-metre races; 1,500- and 3,000-metre distances, and for the top eight skaters based on cumulative points, the Super 1,000 metres semis and finals.

Fairbairn, who will also skate in his second provincial championships this season, looks forward to his first crack at this type of competition. He’s not so worried about medalling, but would like to qualify for finals in at least one event.

“One of my goals is to break 50 seconds in the 500 metres,” he said, noting that he has lowered his best time down to around 51 seconds this season. Going faster and getting his adrenaline pumping is part of what makes the sport fun for him, he adds.

Esquimalt coach Ian Scott, who has overseen the boys’ development at the club over the years, is attending the Games as a member of the coaching staff and anticipates the skaters will have a positive experience.

“It’ll be fun to see them out there in their biggest competition yet and see how they do,” he said. “For short track speedskating at that level, it’s the biggest competition that they have.”

With the boys growing, becoming stronger and faster, Scott said, honing their skills is reaching a point where it involves making incremental improvements. “Up until now … you could kind of get away with being a bit sloppy in terms of your technique, but once you’re at the speeds they’re at, the only way to get better now is to really refine your technique to be closer to perfection.”

You can find Winter Games results daily at bcgames.org and watch for more Games stories at vicnews.com.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria landmarks to glow red in honour of World Tuberculosis Day

1,600 new cases of active TB reported in Canada every year

Victoria bowler strikes gold at World Special Olympics Games

Hours of training at Langford Lanes paved the way to gold for Patrick Reid

Colwood discusses parcel tax to help pay for sewer repair and replacement

Report submitted to committee recommends parcel tax for all residents

UPDATE: Missing 12-year-old girl found

Victora police say missing youth has been found and is safe

The blind lead the blind at the Pacific Training Centre

Centre specializes in teaching visually impaired people everyday skills to live an independent life

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Most Read