All Sport One City Week: Speed Skating

Sport Calgary is doing a blog series on our All Sport One City event happening January 22-27 2018. Our mission for this event is to get adults more active more often by offering over 50 different events in 20 different venues all over Calgary. Matt is a practicum student at Mount Royal University helping out with the All Sport One City event. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Health & Physical Education in Sport & Recreation Management with a passion for sport. Matt’s main activities are golf, soccer, and basketball. He is looking forward to not only running the All Sport One City event but participating in its activities as well.

I am proud to say I have officially checked speed skating off my list of sports to try! I don’t want to say I was intimidated…but showing up to the world-class Olympic Oval, where tall, long-legged athletes in speed suits effortlessly skate at ridiculously high speeds definitely caught my attention. The Oval was the first indoor speed skating venue used at an Olympics. I was told by Oval staff that it is known to be one of the fastest and best quality speed skating surfaces in the world!

Upon arrival, we were greeted by coaches Ailsa and Guy, who have a long history with speed skating. They were thrilled to be able to share their passions with the many other All Sport One City registrants who wanted to try something other than hockey or figure skates. Guy led us through a quick dryland warmup, before trying our skates on to emphasize the importance of certain positions and thought processes a speed skater should have. Guy gave us specific tips on weight transfer between strides, a proper athletic stance, and crossovers!

I felt like a professional walking down into the athlete's tunnel and then coming up onto the other side. It then dawned on me that these speed skater masters were the real professionals, and I was just a newbie with an oversized coat, hockey helmet and mittens. I laced up my long bladed skates as soon as I could and slowly stepped onto the ice before doing an involuntary 360 while trying to catch my balance. These skates are totally different from hockey!

Guy and Ailsa ran an amazing session on the ice, it was so cool to have such passionate coaches share their love for this sport with all of us trying it for the first time. They made sure to give everyone a “skating thought” while on the ice, such as taking longer strides or maintaining an athletic stance. Once we had this thought in our head, they would accommodate each of us to assure we were mastering our techniques. By the end of the session we had gone from basic glides to crossing over on the corners!

If you are looking to get into this sport, I would strongly encourage signing up for a lesson at the world-class Olympic Oval facility. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the long track trying to skate faster with each stride. If you are interested in taking up this sport, please visit www.calgaryspeedskating.ca!

Evans Hunt