About 70 skaters from across the province took the Outdoor Ice Oval Saturday for an interclub long track speed-skating event hosted by the PG Blizzard Skating Club.
Coach with the Blizzard Club, Corine Masich, says despite the heavy snowfall, crews were out at 5 a.m. to clear it all up to make the event a huge success. “Our outdoor Ice Oval Society has done a fantastic job building the ice and maintaining the ice,” she said. “We are getting more and more skaters coming to the club and we actually had a new Masters Learn-To-Skate program start and we had one of those skaters try it out for the first time today.”
Skaters from Fort St. John, Fort St. James, Kamloops, Richmond, and across the province took part. Meanwhile, other skaters like Isaiah Jessie Uribe come from a bit further away.
Jessie Uribe lives in Kamloops, but since moving to Canada two years ago from Colombia, he decided to take up speed skating. “For us in Colombia, I won a grant to come and study English and there I do inline skating, so when I came here they didn’t have inline skating and I had to do speed skating so that’s how I started,” he said. “It feels pretty good to see so many people from different parts and all those people coming and gathering at the same place to do this sport, it feels really good.”
Racing from older divisions as young as four years old, all the way up to 60 years old, the PG Blizzard interclub meet is bringing some tough competition. Local skater, Eric Orlowsky who just competed in the Canada Cup is excited for the sport’s growth in Northern BC. “We’ve had a few rough years where our top athletes have moved to Calgary to the national training centre, but we’re definitely getting better and better skaters and better and better just all together,” Orlowsky said. “The ice here is really fast for outdoors and it’s always been here to help us improve.”
The interclub meet in Prince George marks one of the first big tests to start 2017. Now, skaters will head to Dawson Creek on January 21/22 for the BC Long Track Championships.