Salmon Arm Ice Breakers star, Alyssa Skaalid, 16, continues to make strides in the sport of speed skating, having placed third in her age category at the Thompson-Okanagan qualifiers for the BC Winter Games in Kelowna over the weekend.
Posting times of 2 minutes 56.95 seconds in the 1,500-metre, 42.67 seconds in the 400-m and 21.86 in the 200-m, the Enderby resident and AL Fortune Secondary student was less than 6/100 of a second behind the second-place competitor, just shy of receiving a guaranteed position on Team BC.
She is, however, expected to be invited as a wild-card skater to the Games which are taking place in Vernon Feb. 23 to 26.
“It feels awesome because now I can prepare. I am going to get in as much ice time in as possible and train as much as I can,” she says. “I would like to try to make it to the A finals and perhaps make it to the podium. There are different distances, so each distance is a chance at a medal.”
If asked to attend, it won’t be Skaalid’s first Games experience as she was chosen as a wild card back in 2010.
“Since then, I feel I have improved and I know what to expect this year so I won’t be as nervous,” says the skater, who in 2010 was among the Salmon Arm contingent of athletes selected to carry the Olympic torch during the cross-Canada relay.
That same year, she was ranked fifth in B.C. for her age class and was asked to represent B.C. at the Canadian Westerns in Kelowna.
With no speed skating club in Enderby, Skaalid travels out of town to train with coach and former Olympian, Mike Hall, at the Salmon Arm Icebreakers speed skating club. She also trains in Vernon and Kelowna.
“It (Salmon Arm Icebreakers) has got me to where I am today; my whole family is involved with the club,” she says, noting it can be challenging to balance schoolwork, training, friends and time for herself.
“I try to do my homework on the way to training and I just try to find the time and schedule it as best I can, but it’s hard,” says the athlete, noting that along with training on ice three days a week, she conditions off-ice at home and attends technical camps.
Skaalid says before she started speed skating, she knew little about the sport, but quickly realized anyone would enjoy it.
“It’s not like hockey where you need a whole team to compete. You make friends along the way, but you rely on yourself, and you push yourself a lot. And it doesn’t have to be competitive; it can just be for fun. Anyone from age four to masters can do it.”
As for her future in speed skating, she continues to power forward.
“I would like to compete in the 2015 Canada Winter Games, that is my longtime goal,” Skaalid says.
For more information on programs offered at the Salmon Arm Ice Breakers speed skating club, contact Kimm Magill-Hofmann at email@example.com or 250-804-3083.