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Top times on the ovalSpeed skaters compete outside of territories for first time, set personal bests
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, November 5, 2009
Each of them, brothers Cullen and Connor McLeod, Shannon Baetz, Alex Robertson and Alison McDonald managed to set personal best times at The Edmonton Fall Classic, which happened to be the first time any of them competed outside of the territories. Making their feats even more impressive is that they were only able to get three practices in before the big meet.
Held during the weekend of Oct. 23, the event saw the Inuvik youths aged 11 to 16 face off against competition throughout Western Canada. This included Calgary, Saskatoon as well as Yellowknife, whose members they travelled to the competition with.
The excited crew were welcomed back by their parents and coach Doug McLeod at the airport on Monday, Oct. 26. Connor McLeod was all smiles and had good reason coming first in a division of 13 skaters. He also managed to win six of his seven races, which ranged from 500 meters to 15,000 meters in length.
"I tried to get below 50 seconds in the 500-metre. I managed to do that so I'm really happy about it," he said.
"I'm really happy for everyone else. They did really well too, especially since we didn't have a lot of practices."
He said his top-notch performances have given him confidence for the upcoming territorials in January.
Shannon Baetz turned out several strong performances, finishing third in three of her seven races. She said she was also proud of the group's performances and said it was a testament to great coaching.
Coach Doug, who is Connor and Cullen's dad, said he was "incredibly" proud of each of the skaters.
"When you consider the time these kids had to prepare and the level of competition they were up against, they did an incredible job," he said.
Connor McLeod, Baetz, and McDonald already qualify for the territorials by default because they have no competition in the upcoming regional competition held here at the end of November.
Five skaters from the club's Juvenile boys division will be competing for four spots at the competition. From there they might qualify for the Arctic Winter Games. But Doug's focus for now will be on the territorials where he knows the competition will be strong.
"You couldn't be more nervous as a coach," he said. "I'm already nervous. But these are a great bunch of kids. You really couldn't ask for better."
Alison's mom Pam McDonald couldn't agree more with Doug. She travelled with the speedskaters to Edmonton and said she was in awe of the way they conducted themselves.
"It was amazing, the way they cheered for each other, the respect they showed the competition," she said. "I really was proud of them."