Nunavut’s speedskating outfit at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., isn’t out of it yet in terms of the 500-metre and 1,500-metre events but they will need a big day on Feb. 18.
The 1,500-metre will be the focus that day following the heats and quarter-finals the day before. The four girls and two boys, all from Iqaluit, were in the ice in their heats looking to nail down spots in the quarter-finals. It didn’t happen, though, meaning they were placed in the repechage round. It’s not game over for good but they will need an amazing result if any of them are to advance to the semifinals.
Kyle St. Laurent is the team’s head coach and he said his skaters looked great, even if they were all a bundle of nerves before the racing began.
“They were nervous and the jitters were there,” he said. “As soon as the racing began, they got more confident and they looked a little more relaxed.”
All but one of the team is brand new to this kind of pressure cooker. Hayden Hickey is the only one who’s done this before, having competed at the 2015 Games in Prince George, B.C.
St. Laurent said Hickey is looked at by the team for leadership and he’s happy to be that anchor.
“He’s definitely our team leader,” he said. “He been here before, he knows what to expect, and that’s so important. The other skaters ask him for advice on what to do and how to perform and he’s helping. It’s almost like having an extra coach.”
Following the 1,500-metre repechage, the team will have a day off and then get into the 500-metre repechage on Wednesday with the 1,000-metre races wrapping things up on Thursday.
St. Laurent said that’s where he expects good things to happen.
“I’m very confident we’ll be breaking some Nunavut records in that event,” he said. “Those times have been standing for a long time but Hayden and Taryn Lavallee have been clocking some great times so they should be close to breaking those records.”