Not a long distance, no problem for PEI speed skaters

Andrew Binns (left) and Carter Bruce will compete in long distance speed skating at the Canada Winter Games.  (Aaron Adetuyi/CBC - photo credit)

Andrew Binns (left) and Carter Bruce will compete in long distance speed skating at the Canada Winter Games. (Aaron Adetuyi/CBC – photo credit)

Speed ​​skaters Andrew Binns and Carter Bruce will have some home field advantage on the ice in long track competition at the Canada Winter Games this month.

The two PEI skaters have traveled back and forth from the island to the Halifax Oval, where the long track events will take place in Week 1 of the Games.

Binns, 20, previously competed with Red Deer in short track speed skating at the 2019 Canadian Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.

“This year I’m actually too old for a short distance. But I also thought that the long distance would be a great new opportunity to learn a lot of new things and to test myself a bit,” said Binns.

“It’s a much longer distance, 400 meters compared to 111. The technique is a lot different and on the long distance you drive a lot faster, believe it or not.”

Submitted by Carter Bruce

Submitted by Carter Bruce

In the case of the Halifax Oval, the competition also takes place outdoors.

“The ice can be very brittle at times and it’s also difficult to get a hold of, but for us that’s what we’re training on right now,” said Binns.

“So we could give ourselves a little edge over the competitors who are training indoors at the moment. It could certainly be home advantage on the ice.”

Ride to the train

Binns said it posed some challenges to their preparations as they had to commute to long-haul facilities in other provinces.

He and Bruce, who is also 20 and a student at UPEI, have received additional provincial funding to help them on their journey.

I think they will have an advantage because they are comfortable and they know how to go fast on this ice.
– Carolyn Jarock

“In the fall, I probably went to Quebec three or four times in the fall because they just built an indoor oval there,” Binns said.

“It’s a lot harder to go back and forth, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Kelly Tarala/Flickr

Kelly Tarala/Flickr

Binns said while the Island skaters are grateful to have the Halifax Oval relatively close by, they would have been even happier if an oval had been built at PEI for those games.

“That would have been great to see – a lot of speed skate PEIs were pushing for it as it’s a growing sport and would attract a lot of new people,” said Binns.

“It would also provide the island with many opportunities to use the oval in the years to come, just as Halifax has done.”

Aaron Adetuyi/CBC

Aaron Adetuyi/CBC

Fast ice cream

Carter Bruce, 20, is competing in the long distance for the second time. He was on Team PEI at the 2019 Red Deer games.

“It was super nice to be in Red Deer because the ice was so fast compared to Halifax where we usually practiced,” said Bruce.

“Ice is always faster at higher elevations, so some of the fastest times in the world have been set in Calgary and Salt Lake City. I don’t know exactly why it’s faster, but it’s faster.”

Peter Fuzessery/Canada Winter Games

Peter Fuzessery/Canada Winter Games

“It was an outdoor facility and most days it was probably -20. It wasn’t very warm.”

The long-distance speed skaters will travel by bus to a satellite village in Halifax across from the Oval after the opening ceremonies in Charlottetown.

Bruce said he will miss not being at the Athletes Village.

“It will definitely be different than the last few games. I’m not going to have that experience,” Bruce said.

“But hopefully I can see some of the events because they’re televised, watch them online.”

Aaron Adetuyi/CBC

Aaron Adetuyi/CBC

Like his teammate, Bruce would have liked to see a long-distance oval built on Prince Edward Island.

But he’s excited to see the new Olympic-size ice rink in North Rustico, which will host the short track events and give skaters a better place to train for years to come.

“It’s tremendous for our sport because we’ve trained on NHL-sized ice before, which is so much harder to go fast because you’re just hitting the boards if you’re going faster than 80 percent when you’re at our.” level,” said Bruce.

Nancy Russell/CBC

Nancy Russell/CBC

“This gives us the opportunity to actually train at high speeds and hopefully makes us more competitive with other provinces.”

Carolyn Jarock is the long track coach for Team PEI based in Halifax.

Jarock said that despite the challenges of the trip and the weather, she hopes PEI athletes will make the most of their time at the Games.

“They will understand better how the wind is on our oval than groups from other provinces,” said Jarock.

Submitted by Andrew Binns

Submitted by Andrew Binns

“You’ll have these landmarks in mind, when you pass the flag here I know the wind usually hits me. Or I can see that corner so clearly in my head,” Jarock said.

“I think they will have an advantage because they are comfortable and they know how to go fast on this ice.”


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