North

Big win for Nunavut in 25th annual Atlantic Cup Speed Skating Championships

The Nunavut Speed Skating Association is coming home with huge smiles and seven medals from the 25th annual Atlantic Cup Speed Skating Championships in Charlottetown.

Nunavut Speed Skating Association brings home 7 medals from Charlottetown

'Our kids just blew us out of the water,' says coach Stephen Williamson Bathory. (submitted by the Nunavut Speed Skating Association )

The Nunavut Speed Skating Association is coming home with huge smiles and seven medals from the 25th annual Atlantic Cup Speed Skating Championships over the weekend in Charlottetown.

Miles Uviluq Brewster with his bronze medal. (submitted by Nunavut Speed Skating Association)

"Our kids just blew us out of the water," says coach Stephen Williamson Bathory.

"They were setting personal best times and shaving on individual laps."

The two-day meet in Charlottetown brought together 170 skaters from across Canada. Team Nunavut took 11 athletes to the competition, 10 of whom took to the ice. Three of the younger skaters were taking part in their first meet.

Williamson Bathory says the team was not going to the Atlantic Cup with an expectation of medals.

Regardless, seven out of the 10 Team Nunavut members who competed won medals, bringing home two gold (Taryn Lavallee and Rosalie DeMaio), three silver (Emma Carpenter, Victor Pothier and William Pothier) and two bronze medals (Miles Uviluq Brewster and Akutaq Williamson Bathory). 

To boot, nine of the skaters achieved personal best times on the ice.

Akutaq Williamson Bathory with her bronze medal. The Nunavut athletes started training early this season with an eye to prepare for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. (submitted by Nunavut Speed Skating Association)

Coach Williamson Bathory says some of those personal best times were three to five seconds quicker than the skaters have ever achieved back home.

"That started to open our eyes to the fact that these kids are getting ready to go and they're responding well to competition outside of the club," says Williamson Bathory.

'Up to the challenge'

The coach says the team's success can be attributed to their strategy as well as their program which includes on and off ice training. The athletes started training early this season in September with an eye to prepare for the 2018 Arctic Winter Games in March.

'These kids are getting ready to go and they're responding well to competition outside of the club,' says Williamson Bathory. (submitted by Nunavut Speed Skating Association)

Last year the Arctic Winter Games did not include speedskating. 

The Nunavut Speed Skating Association has been doing a lot of fundraising to get the team exposed to the sport. They are bringing in guest coaches for a local training camp, attending meets in the south and hired a full-time nationally certified level three coach to help improve the skaters' techniques.

"Our skaters are up to the challenge and they're responding to the sport — responding to the programs we created," says Williamson Bathory.

'The pumpkin is super important'

Gold medal winner Rosalie DeMaio says she's happy she took part in the meet.

"I didn't fall once," says DeMaio. "The meet was a lot of fun for all of us."

Ultimately, the team's pumpkin mascot did its part and helped the team skate like the wind. (submitted by Nunavut Speed Skating Association)

DeMaio suggests the team's winning streak may be connected to their new mascot: a pumpkin.

The pumpkin has a large NU inscribed on one side and the word ANURI (wind) on the other. Each skater kissed it before the final races.

"The pumpkin is super important," says coach Grace Boyd.

"Pump it, pump it, pump it up," she chants.

Ultimately, the pumpkin did its part and helped the team skate like the wind.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sima Sahar Zerehi is a reporter with CBC North. She started her career in journalism with the ethnic press working for a Canadian-based Farsi language newspaper. Her CBC journey began as a regular commentator with CBC radio's Metro Morning. Since then she's worked with CBC in Montreal, Toronto and now Iqaluit.

now