Hi there!  If you're visiting this blog you're probably my mom (hi Mom) but just in case you're not here's a little bit about me.

The short version: My name is Sam, I'm 23, and I'm currently living in Calgary pursuing short track speed skating.

The (very) long version: I'm originally from Ottawa, Ontario where I was introduced to the sport of speed skating at the ripe old age of 3 (both my parents were coaches for the local club so it's not like I had any choice in the matter).
Maybe I should bring back the pigtails for racing?
I wasn't exactly a "natural" speed skater early on.  Sure I was coordinated enough and athletic enough but I was also small and didn't win a lot of races.  I didn't really care that I was losing because if I'm being honest I had no idea how heats and finals and placing and medals worked and my parents didn't put any emphasis on winning.  I was having fun and that's all that mattered.

Pretty early on I decided that I liked long track speed skating more than short track.  I don't know what initially drew me towards it.  Was it the training in -30 degree weather?  Was it the burn in the legs from skating 3000m in 30 km/h winds?  I don't know what it was but for some reason as soon as the weather turned cold I would wait with bated breath for that first big snow fall which meant flooding could start on the outdoor oval.
Under all those layers I'm having the time of my life
Not only did I love long track, but as I got older I discovered that I wasn't half bad at it.  For the first time ever I started winning provincial medals and qualifying for Canadian Championships.  As I got into my teens I started to specialize and train specifically for long track.  I would skate short track until the oval was in and then I would be out there almost every night and during the day most weekends.  I started to travel to Canada Cups and started to do fewer and fewer short track meets.  I was a long tracker and I would train short track if I had to but why would I bother competing?  I had this nice little family of Ottawa-area long trackers and I was having the time of my life travelling to competitions in Ste Foy, Calgary, and even Winnipeg.
Skating in Ste Foy at 15, my long track glory days
When the 2011 Canada Winter Games rolled around I was 19, the oldest you could be and still make the team.  I had a rough start to the season skating much slower than my personal best times and dying hard in my long distance races which were usually my specialty.  I was concerned but I figured I still had time before the team trials and I was basically a shoe-in to make the team going in to the trials ranked third by quite a bit.  I skated the short track trials first, as a back up.  I ended up being the alternate for the short track team but I wasn't too upset because I would be going to Canada Games for long track.
A long track team pursuit before the crash and burn
To say that the 2010-2011 season did not go as planned would be an understatement.  Not only did I not make the Canada Games team but I wasn't even close; after the first day it was mathematically impossible for me to qualify.  Not making the team was devastating.  I took a break from school and there was a lot of crying.  The only thing that was getting me through the train wreck of a season was my plan to move to Calgary to train long track for the next season.  But I couldn't catch a break there either.  The qualifying times to get in to the long track oval program changed so that I no longer had them.  It was barely even a surprise because that was just how my year had been going.

I thought I was going to be done.  I didn't want to quit skating but I didn't see any other options at that point.  Luckily my dad wasn't ready to give up on me and he figured out that I had my short track times for the oval program.  The plan was to start the season in the short track program and then get my long track times and switch back to long track.
I was an average, middle-of-the-pack short tracker who only really cared that her suit and skates matched
Something I wasn't expecting happened that first season in Calgary.  I threw myself into training.  For the first time ever I was focusing on short track and I was actually getting kind of good?  And I was really enjoying it?  Suddenly I realized that I didn't really want to try to train for long track because short track was going so well that I would rather focus on just that than try to do both.

The improvements continued throughout the 2012/2013 season where for the first time ever I qualified for the National Team trials at the end of the year.  Somewhere I never came close to when I was skating long track.  
2012/2013 season in our fancy new oval suits
If I hadn't had that complete collapse in 2011 I don't know where I'd be today but I'm sure glad I ended up here and I'm excited to see where I go next.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, so awesome to hear about a sport I never knew about! Well done, hope everything goes well for you in the future :) xx