Speed Skaters Hit High Marks

By Jamie Harkins
March 23, 2017

RACING AHEAD Emma Stephens set six personal best times in six races this past weekend at Canada Cup No. 4. PHOTO COURTESY ARNO HOOGVELD, OLYMPIC OVAL

Emma Stephens had an up and down speed skating season. The 16-year-old skater for the Lloydminster Border Blades experienced a trying time at many competitions this past winter as she tried to adjust to a new way of approaching the sport. Stephens said the biggest lesson learned was that sometimes progress doesn’t show itself in terms of time on paper, but in how a skater feels about their race.

“My coaches in Calgary helped me come to the realization that in order to improve speed you couldn’t just improve power,” said Stephens. “It had to be technique first. So, it changes the whole way you skate and the whole way you attack a race. Sometimes you have to move back in order to move forward.” Stephens achieved that goal at the Canada Cup No. 4 Olympic Oval Finale in Calgary this past weekend as a member of Alberta’s long track team when she set personal best times in all four of her events. The Grade 11 student at Holy Rosary Catholic School shaved 0.53 seconds off her previous 500-metre mark of 0:44.79 ticks, dropped her 1,000-m time down 0.85 seconds to 1:29.75, realized a 0.86 second best for a 2:19.18 mark in the 1,500-m race and notched a 6.98 improvement for a time of 4:55.69 in the 3,000-m heat.

“It was just more experience,” she said. “Every time you step onto the ice everything feels smoother, feels faster and feels stronger. Especially since our ice in Lloyd hasn’t been in for the past month, so it’s a big difference just being able to skate that extra bit out in Calgary.” Border Blades skaters Shaye Holzinger, Rebekah Shurniak, Erica Pollard, Jayva Andersen and Keeley Lockhart also represented their province over the weekend in the Canada West Short Track Championships at Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre. Andersen, 12, captured a bronze medal with the Alberta junior girls relay team at the event, while Holzinger, 15, helped the Alberta senior girls relay team win a silver medal.

The second-place finish is all the more impressive because Team Alberta had to race with three skaters instead of the usual four due to a last-minute injury. Holzinger said that meant each of the teammates had to skate two extra laps of clean racing to reach the podium. “We just talked about (the race) before and we set a game plan,” said Holzinger. “We thought of all the variables of what could happen if we made a mistake or someone fell and what would we do and how would we fix that and how would we get back in and we just put our all into it.”

Andersen said their four-person relay team started off slow, advanced to the second position by the halfway point and fell back to the third spot by the end of the championship final. She said there are 32 people on the ice during a relay race making everything involved with the contest a difficult challenge, but they persevered and kept their pace to finish third overall.

“It felt good getting the bronze medal because it wasn’t just me getting it, it was my whole team,” said Andersen. “We did really good and I was really happy about it, but I am sad that we’re done this year and I only get to see all my friends from different places next year. It’s going to be a while.”

Stephens will face a new challenge in 2017-18 competing with the Team Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association development team due to reaching provincial qualifying times this past winter. She said the plan is to train throughout the summer for the opportunity to continue progressing in the sport.

“There is not a whole lot that will be different,” said Stephens. “It’s just going to hopefully be more intense training. Being part of the Alberta development team is like having a whole new team, but once you go to the Oval it’s like a home away from home. Everybody welcomes you. You’re part of a team even though you’re from all across the province.” 

Thank you to the Lloydminster Source and Jamie Harkins for the media coverage!

You can view the article online at the Lloydminster Source: March 23 Border Blades article

Oval Finale/Canada Cup # 4 Results.

Emma Stephens competed at the Oval Finale/Canada Cup #4 at the Olympic Oval on March 16-19 with great success.  She raced in the 500m (x2), 1000m (x2), 1500m and 3000m, achieving personal bests in all six races!

Congratulations Emma on your solid results in Long Track this year, and reaching your goal of being named to the Alberta Provincial Development Team.

Emma Stephens, photo courtesy of Arno Hoogveld.

Border Blades Skate to Nationals

By Jamie Harkins
March 16, 2017

FAST FIVE Border Blades, from left, Erica Pollard, Shayne Holzinger, Jayva Andersen, Rebekah Shurniak and Keeley Lockhart will represent Team Alberta at the Canada West Short Track Championships in Saskatoon this weekend. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO

Six members of the Lloydminster Border Blades speed skating club will represent Alberta at end-of-season championships this weekend.

Border Blades skaters Erica Pollard, Shaye Holzinger, Jayva Andersen, Rebekah Shurniak and Keeley Lockhart will compete as members of Team Alberta at the Canada West Short Track Championships in Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre this Saturday and Sunday. Emma Stephens will carry the flag of her home club and province in long track at the Canada Cup No. 4 Olympic Oval Finale in Calgary from Thursday to Sunday.

“I qualified for Canada Cup No. 4 and I’ve been qualified all year, but this one is extra special because it’s the last meet to skate at the Oval,” said Stephens, 16, who also made the 2017-18 Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association development team thanks to her strong times this year. “Everybody, not necessarily your bottom end, but those who qualify all the way up to your Olympians skate at this meet, so it’s a really cool experience.”

Stephens said about 150 to 200 skaters will compete at Canada Cup No. 4, which includes more of a team and social atmosphere compared to other meets during the season. She said the competition is designed for athletes to interact with one another, but she still hopes to score a top time in the one-to-two races she’ll participate in each day. “On short track you have anywhere from four to eight people on the line at a time and you’re racing against each other in your heat, whereas in long track it’s all against the clock,” she said. “It’s all about your time and not your placing, so I could go out and there could be 16 pairs of skaters but it doesn’t matter how I do in my pair. It matters how my time compares to everybody else’s. It’s more based on your individual performance than your performance in a group.”

Andersen said the Canada West Short Track Championships will be her second end-of-season national tournament this year. She said the Canadian Age Class Long Track Championships, where she finished with a silver medal in the 500-metre competition and fifth overall at Edmonton’s Victoria Park Oval in early February, was her first. “This season was really fun,” said Andersen, 12. “I’m really happy that I qualified for both of them because those are the only ones I could qualify for this year (due to age restrictions) and I did really well.”

Andersen said a third overall placing at the RU Fast Short Track event at the Olympic Oval earlier this month allowed her to qualify for this weekend’s competition. She said a fall in her first try at the 200-m race hurt her chances, but she jumped back up and found a new gear to propel her to the solid finish.

“It’s great for the club,” said Border Blades president Charmaine Stephens. “They all (finished) top five, top three, top two to get to go represent Alberta at Can West. Then for our long track, Emma is skating at Canada Cup and there is a time standard and only skaters with that time standard can go to compete so she achieved that. That was good, but she also had another achievement where she reached her provincial times. Next year she’ll actually race representing Alberta for the entire season.” 

Thank you to the Lloydminster Source and Jamie Harkins for the media coverage!

You can view the article online at the Lloydminster Source: March 16 Border Blades article

Mini Meet and Season Windup

The Mini Meet was a great way to finish an amazing 2016/17 season for the Border Blades!  There were a lot of smiling faces during the different activities, and we hope everyone had a great time.  This was the first year the Learn to Skate group was included for the full meet, and it was great to have the whole club out together.

The Border Blades had one graduating member this year.  We would like to wish Kyra Weidmark congratulations and good luck!  Thank you for helping to coach Speed Skate 2 this season.

Keep an eye on your emails for information about our season end party.

2017 Border Blades

Learn To Skate Relay Races

The Annual Slip and Slide is Always a Favourite

Final Mini Meet Sign Up

Our fourth and final mini meet will take place on Monday, March 13.  Please use the link below to sign up for a volunteer position.  

This will be the final practice of the year for L2S, SS1 and SS2.  A fun slip and slide event will be held at the end of the meet.  Border Blades skins can not be worn for the slip and slide, so make sure to pack a change of clothes and a towel.

Sign Up Now!