Five skaters qualify for Games, Keca gaining speed
Stellar performances last weekend at the Capital News Centre earned Kelowna Speed Skating Club members five out of eight possible berths on the 2012 B.C. Winter Games team.
Emilie Medland-Marchen, a 2010 medallist, filled one of the two spots in the girls 14-15 year old age female division.
MItchell McCullough and Chris Neykov (also a 2010 medallist) filled the top two spots in the 15-16 year-old male division with Kevin Fisher taking the first alternate position.
Leading the 12-13 year-old female division was Connie Kapak while Etienne Benoit-Labelle captured a spot in the 13-14 year-old male division. Dave Walsh, has been nominated as one of the coaches.
Meanwhile, Jesse Keca, 16, was busy tearing up the ice in Calgary. A solid performance at the Canadian Junior Short Track Championships among the top 32 under 19-year-olds in the country earned her a 10th place overall ranking.
Last year, Jesse was ranked 15th. Her next stop was the National Qualifier where she joined the top 17-48 females in the country (all ages). A fourth-place finish in the 1500 clinched her bid to finish in the top 10. Jesse will now join the top 16 in the country including Olympic and World Cup medallists such as Marianne St. Gelais at the Canadian Senior Championships in Chicoutimi, Que., Jan 13 to 15. The championship is also the first of two national team ranking meets.
"Jesse got stronger as the competitions progressed," said Nancy Goplen, head coach with the KSSC and Okanagan Regional Training Centre (ORTC). "They were four days of intense competition as skaters battled for the top ranking and Jesse learned lots along the way. The KSSC has never had a short track skater compete at this level so it was a monumental moment and a great experience for both of us.
"In fact, Jesse was the top ranked skater who is not currently training at a National Training Centre. I think she can thank her KSSC team mates for some of her progress. Jesse also a tremendous work ethic and juggles her schedule between speed skating and the Thompson-Okanagan Rockets Hockey Team. There is no doubt that our National Short Track director was taking notes on Jesse as she has demonstrated that she can be one of Canada's next rising star."
On the long track scene, Keara Maguire, Nick Goplen, Emilie Medland-Marchen, Cam Bennett, Dan Medland-Marchen, Alison Banwell and Chris Neykov are preparing for the Canada Cup scheduled for Jan. 5 to 8 in Calgary. That event will also serve as the Winter World Cup qualifier, something Maguire has a shot at.