Saskatchewan definitely punches above its weight in the Olympic sport of speed skating. In 2018, two of Team Canada's racers were from Saskatchewan, and at Sochi, there were four. In much of Canada, it's hard to find a speed skating track, but if you ever wanted to try your hand at the sport, Melville has its own short track facility.
Just a short hop away, the Melville Speed Skating Club has its own program, and is administerd by Sask Speed Skating, the provincial regulatory body for the sport. Kim Engel, who runs the Melville club, says it is a sport that can be learned by all sorts of individuals at different skill levels.
“We have a learn to skate program for any kid six years or under – or people that have never skated before. That's our group 1-2. Then we have our competitive group, which is our group 3-4. So it's different varying levels of competitiveness that they're in, and different skill levels. My twins are six, and they're in group one – the learn to skate. My oldest son is almost 12 and he's in our group 4, the competitive stream. We have any kind of kid,” Engel explains.
“We have kids that are brand new that are trying to skate, we have kids from other sports, like hockey that have switched to speed skating. It really just depends on their interest. Our biggest thing, first and foremost, is that our kids have fun. That's really what we focus on. Then we focus on the different skills, [because] we want them to get better. We want them to get faster. We want kids to want to do speed skating [and] have fun while they're there.”
It is also known for being a particularly inclusive sport.
“The biggest thing we find with speed skating is that everybody cheers for everybody,” Engel says.
“If you go to a meet or a competition, there's no club against club, or parent against parent, or skater against skater. Everybody is cheering everybody else on. As they get older, it's really neat to see how they've kind of grown up in the sport with each other. They get to look forward to hanging out with the kids from the other clubs, and it's neat to see how they all kind of gravitate towards each other.”
If you'd like to check it out or try it yourself, everybody is welcome. Contact Kimberly Engel at Kim_35@hotmail.com or Jamie Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org .