Speed skating: a small Nelson club with big heart
The Nelson Speed Skating Club is out to make a big name.
By far, they’re not the biggest club in town. But there’re kids with big potential and big heart ready to move into some big shoes.
There are 22 members ages 5 to 16 that practice twice weekly at the NDCC. A few years ago, they were down to only six members but the club just keeps on skating.
“We’re the little club who can,” says president Bruce Atkins.
With no other clubs in the Kootenays to compete against, Calgary, Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops become rivals.
“If we want to be in competition, we have to really hold it together. Our next closest competitors come from communities 10 times the size.”
Some big names have come out of the Speed Skating club with Scott Bickerton eyeing the national team. Tyler Hartleb just won the provincial long track competition in Fort St. John and Spencer Pearson-Atkins won the provincial short track skate in Mission. World Cup gold medalist in 2006 and three-year member of the National short track team, Daryl Rasmussen is now also coaching the Nelson team.
Rasmussen says the family feel of the small club isn’t exclusive to the local rink. It’s an individual sport but the teams have a close kinship.
“We were taught you cheer everyone on,” he says. “This sport creates tight bonds.”
The best skaters in the world reach speeds of up to 60 km per hour with centrifugal force exhilarating. The local club has skaters reaching speeds of 40 km per hour and young club members admit going fast is what got them interested in speed skating.
“Once they try it, there are very few people who walk away from it,” says Rasmussen.
Atkins sees his club well supported by the families involved.
“They totally contribute to where these kids are going.”
He invites others to try this great winter sport that has a huge international following.
On February 18, the Nelson Speed Skating club is holding their skate-a-thon fundraiser. It’s a 5000 m marathon skate – the second longest existing race, quite big for athletes who are 8-years-old, says Atkins. Skaters have been going door-to-door looking for sponsors and funds to support the club, pay for ice fees, equipment and association fees. Coaches are volunteers, however.
“We are lucky to have the top level coaches we do,” says Atkins.