Speed skaters from around the world gathered at the grand opening of the Olympic Oval on Oct. 15 to iron out some kinks from the summer. Teams have been on the ice for three weeks gearing up for World Cup trials at the end of the month, where skaters will race for the chance to represent Canada in a battle of blades against the world's finest.
Kevin Crockett, Oval program long-track coach, said the next few weeks are going to be tough for skaters who will be training hard for a spot on the Canadian team.
"We have some pre-qualified speed skaters and some speed skaters who are trying to make their way onto the National Team," he said.
The World Cup competitions will be scattered across the world for the 2011-12 season. Skaters who qualify will have the opportunity to race in Russia, Kazakhstan, China and more.
The races on Saturday were light-hearted and fun, providing a chance to spread the word about speed skating and the word-class facilities available in Calgary.
"It's kind of like practice racing, nothing too serious," said Crockett. "[We're trying to] Iron out some kinks and rust and trying to fine tune a bit."
Alberta's junior athlete of the year in 2011, Gilmore Junio, said he is looking forward to another year of skating.
"We use these races to get ready for the trials," said the third-year University of Calgary kinesiology student. "[We're] Just trying to get some of the cobwebs out from the summer and getting ready to do the trials."
In his ninth year speed skating, Junio said it has been a long road, and it all comes down to making the Canadian team.