Abbotsford will be a speed skating hub for the month of March.
A pair of big events are set to take over local rinks starting on Saturday with the B.C. Short Track Speed Skating Championships.
The event, hosted by the Matsqui Blades Speed Skating club, also runs on Sunday at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre. Athletes from 11 years old to Masters age will be vying for age group titles. Organizers are anticipating 150 skaters from across B.C. with many travelling from the north and Vancouver Island for the weekend.
Local skaters to watch are Mission’s Asher Barnsdale looking to repeat his gold medal performance from last season in boys 14 while Clara Johnson of the host Matsqui Blades will be aiming for the top of the podium in girls 12 division. The Blades will also be looking to Raminjeet Chauhan in girls 14 age class. Chauhan also recently finished fourth in U16 3000 metes mixed relay speed skating and seventh in U16 500 metres female speed skating at the B.C. Winter Games. Special Olympian Paige Norton will also compete in the senior category.
Athletes in the U17 age group will be vying for positions on Team B.C. for the Canada West Short Track Speed Skating Championships to be held on March 17 and 18 at the Abbotsford Centre. This competition brings the best young skaters from B.C. to Manitoba and the Territories together in the first national event of their careers.
“Athletes at the U17 age are needing an exposure to competition from skaters they haven’t raced before,” said Bruce Wenting from the Mission Racers Speed Skating Club in a press release. “They have competed in many inter-club competitions where they are familiar with the strengths and tactics of most of their competitors but in this meet, many will be having to race against unfamiliar athletes.”
Opening ceremonies for the CanWest Championships kick off at 9 a.m. on March 17 with local dignitaries welcoming 125 athletes and their families to our region for this free admission event. Medal ceremonies will take place at the conclusion of each day’s racing.
It’s the second consecutive year that the CanWest Championships have been hosted in Abbotsford. Prior to last year, Abbotsford had not hosted a national speed skating competition since 2001.
For more information, visit canwestspeedskating.ca.