Three elite speed skaters, all products of the Ridge Meadows Racers Speed Skating Club, are training at elite levels at national sport centres.
Marshall Shupe, a Maple Ridge Secondary grad, has his eye on making the US National Team. The dual citizen is currently training with the FAST program, a high-performance group at the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City.
Shupe balances a busy schedule, training both on and off the ice for several hours every day, all while attending Salt Lake Community College tuition free. His training has been sporadic at times due to the COVID-19 restrictions enforced by the Utah Olympic Oval. Skaters and coaches have weekly testing to ensure all the skaters and coaches are safe.
Despite the pandemic, US Speed Skating had two scheduled short track competitions this season, from which top skaters were selected to attend the World Cup held in Dordrecht, Netherlands in early March. Shupe participated in both. Although falls in the first two distances hurt his final results, Shupe placed 10th in the 1000m and 12th overall. He will compete in the US Championship which is scheduled for March 19 and 20.
Siblings Annabelle (18) and Sam (16) Green have been training at the Olympic Oval in Calgary. Both skaters balance high-level training with studies. Annabelle is attending her first year at the University of Calgary, while Sam, still in high school, continues his studies with the Mission Secondary Home Study Program.
The siblings have already developed impressive resumes with hardware and fast times at elite competitions, including a bronze medal for Annabelle at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, and Sam setting BC junior and senior records in the 1000m and 1500m events. He was only 0.2 seconds slower than the junior world record in the 1500m.
But both skaters have been hampered by COVID-19 restrictions, with lockdowns basically shutting down the sports system in Calgary, exacerbated by the breakdown of the refrigeration system at the Calgary Olympic Oval.
The Greens have recently returned home, to be coached by their Olympian parents, Julian and Eden Green. Training in the Lower Mainland is not without its own set of difficulties, with a lack of Olympic-size training venues. Coach Julian noted “there is little or no time to decelerate if a skater falls on an NHL arena before they hit the boards. Our skaters are travelling at up to 47 km per hour.”
Sam, still hoping to salvage the season, is awaiting confirmation he can skate in the 2021 Canadian Olympic Short Track Team Trials.
The Ridge Meadows Racers continue to support skaters of all abilities and ages. The season was truncated due to facility repairs at Planet Ice, but local skaters continued their training by fanned out to sister clubs throughout the Fraser Valley. Skating on home ice began again in January and continues in the spring.
Although competitions are still not allowed, skaters are optimistic that things will return to normal next season.
“The club continues to look for new members, and anyone looking for a fun and engaging ice experience with excellent coaching and team spirit is encouraged to check out the club website at ridgemeadowsracers.org,” said club president Kyle Ludeman.
Registrations is open for spring ice, which runs through April and May on Saturday afternoons at Planet Ice.
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