Speed skaters Andrew Binns and Carter Bruce may have home ice advantage, in a way, through the long-track competition on the Canada Winter Games this month.
The 2 P.E.I. skaters have been travelling backwards and forwards from the Island to the Halifax Oval, where the long-track events shall be held during Week 1 of the Games.
Binns, 20, previously competed at Red Deer in short-track speed skating on the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.
“This yr, I’m actually too old for a brief track. But I also thought that long track could be a terrific recent opportunity to learn a lot of recent things, and provides myself a little bit of a test,” Binns said.
“It’s rather a lot greater track, 400 metres in comparison with 111. The technique is rather a lot different, and also you go rather a lot faster in long track, imagine it or not.”
Within the case of the Halifax Oval, the competition can even be outdoors.
“The ice can sometimes be very brittle, and it’s hard to grip it as well, but for us that is where we’re training right away,” Binns said.
“So we would get a bit little bit of a bonus over the competitors who’re training inside in the intervening time. It may very well be a house ice advantage needless to say.”
Travel to coach
Binns said it has added some challenge to their preparations, having to commute to long-track facilities in other provinces.
He and Bruce, who’s also 20 and studying at UPEI, have received some additional provincial funding to assist them with their travel.
I believe they’ll have a bonus just in being comfortable, and knowing the way to race fast on this ice.— Carolyn Jarock
“In the autumn, I probably went to Quebec three or 4 times in the autumn driving over there because they’ve an indoor oval just built,” Binns said.
“It’s rather a lot harder going backwards and forwards but it surely’s price it, needless to say.”
Binns said while the Island skaters are grateful to have the Halifax Oval relatively close by, they might have been even happier to have an oval built on P.E.I. for these Games.
“That may have been great to see — plenty of Speed Skate P.E.I. was pushing for that because it’s a growing sport, and it might attract a lot of recent people,” Binns said.
“It could also pose a lot of opportunities for the Island to have the opportunity to make use of the oval in future years, identical to Halifax has done.”
Carter Bruce, 20, is competing in long track for the second time. He was on Team P.E.I. in 2019 on the Games in Red Deer.
“It was super nice to be in Red Deer since the ice was so fast in comparison with where we were normally training, in Halifax,” Bruce said.
“Ice is all the time faster at higher elevation, so among the fastest times on the earth have been skated in Calgary and Salt Lake City. I do not know exactly why it’s faster, but it surely’s faster.”
“It was an outside facility and it was probably–20 most days. It was not very warm.”
The long-track speed skaters will head by bus to a satellite village in Halifax, across from the oval, after the opening ceremonies in Charlottetown.
Bruce said he’ll miss not being within the athletes’ village.
“It’ll definitely be different from last Games. I won’t get that have,” Bruce said.
“But hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to observe among the events because they’re being telecast, watch them online.”
Like his teammate, Bruce would have liked to see a long-track oval built on Prince Edward Island.
But he’s comfortable to see the brand new Olympic-size rink in North Rustico, which is able to host the short-track events, and provides the skaters a greater place to coach for years to come back.
“It’s huge for our sport because, before, we were training on NHL-size ice, which is a lot harder to go fast because you will just hit the boards should you go any faster than like 80 per cent should you’re at our level,” Bruce said.
“This offers us the chance to truly have the opportunity to coach at high speeds, and hopefully make us more competitive with other provinces.”
Carolyn Jarock is the long-track coach for Team P.E.I., based in Halifax.
Jarock said she hopes, despite the challenges of the travel and weather, that the P.E.I. athletes will profit from their time competing within the Games.
“They’ll understand what the wind is like on our oval higher than groups from other provinces,” Jarock said.
“They’ll have those landmarks of their head, once you pass the flag here, I do know the wind normally hits me. Or I can see that corner in my head so clearly,” Jarock said.
“I believe they’ll have a bonus just in being comfortable, and knowing the way to race fast on this ice.”