The Dawson Creek Speedskating Club (DCSC) officially opened the outdoor skating oval this Sunday with a barbeque and skate as a way to raise interest to the sport and thank the club’s many sponsors that help them maintain the rink.
The track, which year after year takes over the Dawson Creek Secondary School field during the winter months, has been open to the public since just after Christmas.
Kathy Kannedy, president of the DCSC, says that while the oval has been around for many years, it seems the general public aren’t aware of the rink’s presence.
“We love to have people come skate and everyone is welcome to try the sport but we do need people to know more about it,” says Kennedy.
The oval is created as a joint effort by the City of Dawson Creek and the DCSC, while the club is in charge of maintaining the project. They depend heavily on the public’s support and fundriasers.
“It is a wonderful venue for families to come and skate with any kind of skates,” says Kennedy.
There are even long-track skates available to rent on location for those wanting to try out the sport.
“Anyone can come down and try it, and the track is open everyday after school and on weekends,” reminds Kennedy.
The oval, however, is closed to public during club practices held on Thursdays and Sundays.
“The older, more serious [club] skaters go there almost everyday after school to do their program. The rest of the club goes there every Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon,” said Kennedy, who added that the club is always open to new members.
The club offers free one-time training sessions for first-timers, as well as a 10-week program for beginners.
She notes that the track has to be closed to the public during regular practices to ensure the safety of the skaters and of others on the ice due to the fast speeds and long sharp skate blades. Kennedy also adds that maintenance of the rink can be difficult at times and it requires the public’s cooperation – its use is primarily for speedskating, not other sports.
“Much of the general public doesn't realize that the oval is mainly for speedskating and that hockey nets, pucks, sticks, dirt of any type can cause serious falls when skaters are moving at fast speeds.”
DCSC skaters such as Pauline and Hadley Sutherland, and Hannah Brunn among others are training for the long-track provincials two weeks from now in Fort St. John.
This season, they have competed at several inter-club meets around the region and Pauline, 15, has competed at national events in Calgary, AB at the Olympic Oval.
At the upcoming B.C. finals in Fort St. John, skaters will compete for berths to the Canadian Championships to be held in Winnpeg, MB in February.
But the speedskating season doesn’t end there. Club skaters will change their skates back to short-track blades to round out the year. After a hiatus in December and January for long-track, the short-track season restarts in late February and its national championships are in March.