Sisters share passion for speed skating skill

Alyssa Skaalid continues to make a name for herself on the speed skating circuit.

Nationally ranked short track speed skater Alyssa Skaalid gives her twin sister Anna some pointers during a Salmon Arm Ice Breakers skating weekly practice held on the ice at the Shaw Centre.

Nationally ranked short track speed skater Alyssa Skaalid gives her twin sister Anna some pointers during a Salmon Arm Ice Breakers skating weekly practice held on the ice at the Shaw Centre.

Alyssa Skaalid continues to make a name for herself on the speed skating circuit.

She placed second overall in the Junior division (16 to 19 years old) in Prince George on Nov. 17-18.

Despite a collision in the 1,000-meter race, she finished the event, which included skaters from B.C., Alberta and the Northwest Territories, with very strong times in the 3,000-m, 1,500-m and 500-m races.

At only 17 years of age, Alyssa is now a nationally ranked short track speed skater.

She has been skating for eight years and is currently ranked 57 in Canada in her age group.

This honour brings with it the potential to compete in the Canadian Short Track Championships, which will be held March 2013 in Montreal.

When she is not on the road competing or training, Alyssa volunteers her time to help out twin sister Anna, who is the head coach of the junior Ice Breakers.

The twins first started skating in Mackenzie when they were nine years old.

The family moved to the Okanagan in 2008 and joined the Ice Breakers that year.

Anna enjoyed speed skating competitions but finds coaching young skaters more rewarding. She has been a full time coach the past three years volunteering her time and expertise on both Wednesday and Friday nights during the season.

Both are Grade 12 students at A.L. Fortune in Enderby who plan to continue their involvement with the sport after graduation.

“I just love working with kids who enjoy what they are doing, and see them improve each year,” says Anna about why she coaches. “Seeing them work hard with smiles on their faces keeps me coming back.”

The entire family is passionate about speed skating, with mom Myrna acting as the club treasurer and dad Les, a past director, and now filling in whatever role is needed. He’s typically on the road with Alyssa, assisting with equipment, helping out with younger skaters at races or acting as track steward or race starter at regional meets.

Anyone wishing to catch Alyssa and other speed skaters in action, the Ice Breakers’ regular practice time is on Fridays from 6:30-7:15 p.m.

You can watch Anna and her junior racers from 5:15-6:30 p.m.

Both practices take place at Hucul Pond in the Shaw Centre.

Members of the Ice Breakers will be on hand to answer any questions, and to provide more information.

“You can start speed skating at any age or ability – it is a great workout and we have a large selection of skates available for new members,” says Rick Hofmann, president of the Ice Breakers.

“Anyone is welcome to come and give it a try.”

For more information, call Kimm at 250-804-3083 or email kmahof@shaw.ca