North

Yellowknife speed skater makes her mark on national stage

A speed skater from Yellowknife was the fastest of four 14-year-old girls at the Canadian Junior Championships this month in Quebec.

Wren Acorn tops her age group at Canadian Junior Championships earlier this month

Yellowknife speed skater Wren Acorn was at the top of her age group for girls at the Canadian Junior Championships this month in Quebec (Submitted by Shane Clark)

A speed skater from Yellowknife was the fastest of four 14-year-old girls at the Canadian Junior Championships this month in Quebec.

Wren Acorn competed in the championships Dec. 15 to 17 against top speed skaters from across the country aged 14 to 19. She qualified for the event in November at the Canadian Open National Qualifier in Calgary.

The top four skaters in each gender qualified to go to the 2018 World Junior Short Track Championships.

Acorn placed 22nd overall, but was the top 14-year-old girl. She says she is overjoyed by her results.

"No matter who I was racing, no matter how different I was in ability to the person skating next to me, I always wanted to be a factor in every race and I feel like I really did that successfully," she said.

Shane Clark, Acorn's coach, said her performance at the competition was years in the making. He said to prepare for an event like this Acorn stayed committed to her training regimen, diet plan and sleep pattern.

Acorn, seventh from the left in multi colours representing the northern lites, and Clark third from left, with all the western Canadian coaches, support staff and skaters in Quebec earlier this month for the Canadian Junior Championships. (Submitted by Shane Clark)

Clark believes being a good speed skater is about more than being fast. It also requires confidence, strength and mental toughness. In Acorn's case, he is particularly impressed by her level of maturity, both on and off the ice.

"She's able to put all of those external factors that make all of us really nervous when we get to a starting line, whatever sport it is, and channel everything into giving the best performance," he said.

For Acorn, the competition was a great learning experience, especially since she doesn't compete as much because there's a smaller speed skating community in the North. She said her main takeaway from the event was learning more about how to use strategy in her races, since speed skating is a tactical sport.

"It's really great to just to play around with [strategy] and practise passing and blocking and different strategies," she said.

"It was also really great inspiration and motivation to take away from this meet and to start setting goals for myself."

Acorn said her future goals are to compete at the World Cup and the Olympics, but the latter is too far in the future for her to think about for now.

"I have at least four more years in the junior category and just setting goals and saying to myself: 'OK this is where I'm able to be in four years if I really train for it and maybe one day I will be a contender for the World Cup, hopefully."

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