Border Blades skate to nationals

By Jamie Harkins

March 16, 2017 12:00 AM

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.”

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