On December 15-16, Aliya Howard headed down to the Jack Shea Sprint Championship at the Lake Placid Olympic Oval to take part in her first long track meet of the season. Howard was recently named to the Ontario Provincial Development team in long track, the youngest athlete in Ontario with that honour. Along with many of her Ontario teammates, she had an outstanding showing in Lake Placid, taking the gold medal in the Junior C girls’ 13-14 category.
Howard is a national level competitor here in Canada, and this was her first chance to compete with American skaters. “I love long track,” says Howard, “but being in Kingston means I don’t get to practice it much. I have to train off ice and by doing short track speed skating. The closest oval is in Ottawa, and since it is natural ice, we never know when it’s going to open each year. “
On the short track scene, skaters across Ontario are getting used to a new format at both the regional and provincial levels, taking to a smaller track and skating in mixed gender and age events until they reach Junior B (15+) age categories.
“The new format is allowing for some real improvements in the skaters in terms of personal best times,“ notes Striders’ head coach Kelly Ball. “Everyone is improving and getting better at each competition. Results are a little bit harder to see in terms of medal counts, especially among our female skaters. They are now being challenged by taking on the boys at the provincial level – which is resulting in a lot of racing and technical skills development. That will help them as they move into age class, gender-divided provincial championships and national competitions.”
Indeed, when compared to their age mates in speed-based rankings, Kingston skaters are among the top in the province. 14-year old Sarah Ball is the top-ranked skater in her age class. Julia Patterson is currently standing in 6th place in Girls 9; Chloe Goss stands 14th in Girls 11; Howard is 6th in Girls’ 12. Many of the boys in the club are newer competitors, but still hold their own in provincial rankings, with 8-year-old William Petznick ranked 7th in his age class and newcomer Kahlil Seguin-Gervais ranked 21st in Boys 11, with only one meet under his belt; teammate Ian Ramzy is 12th in the same division.
The Striders hosted an Eastern Ontario Regional meet on Sunday January 20 at Cataraqui Community Centre, Kinsmen Ice Pad.