Speed skater Nicholas Goplen saved some of his best performances for the end of the 2012-13 season.
Competing in the North American Single Distance Championships in Salt Lake City earlier this month, the Kelowna product finished sixth in the 1500m with a personal best time of 1:48.80, seventh in the 5000m, and 18th in the 500m with a PB of 37.03 in a field of 90 skaters from U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Finland, Taiwan and India.
A few days later, Goplen competed in the Oval Finale/Canada Cup in a field of nearly 200 male skaters from Japan, U.S., Canada, Taiwan, Finland, the Netherlands, Mongolia and Norway.
In the 5000, Goplen finished 15th with a new personal best time of 6:39.30. Competing in just his second 1000m of the season, he finished 22nd while shaving almost a full second to finish with a 1.11.16. In the 500m, Goplen eclipsed the 37.0 mark with a 36.92 to finish 45th. In the 1500m, he placed 22nd with a time of 1:29.12, just shy of his personal set in Salt Lake City.
“Nick had a few hiccups this season with a major cut to his ankle in October that prevented him from training on ice for more than a month,” said Okanagan regional coach and Nick’s mom, Nancy Goplen. “He maintained his fitness with off ice training and them came on strong in early January to place fourth overall at nationals and compete for Canada at the Continental Championships. A flu set him back again so we were really pleased with the final outcome. He has never been particularly quick so he really improved his sprinting technique this season so that is very encouraging for the future.”
Goplen, however, was not the only skater to race to some personal bests.
Abigail McCluskey, 16, achieved personal bests in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, and 3000m. Her time in the 500m placed her amongst the top 10 in the under-19 age category in Canada. Her 1000m placed her in the top 20 in Canada.
“Abigail is very new to the sport of speed skating, having transferred over from hockey,” said Goplen. “She commutes twice a week from Penticton to practice with the Kelowna Speed Skating Club and Okanagan Regional Training Centre. She is very passionate about speed skating and she has very supportive parents that have made it possible for her to accompany me to Calgary for long track training. Abigail has a lot of so much raw talent so it is exciting to work with her.”
Emilie Medland-Marchen, 17, also competed in the Oval Finale/Canada Cup Final but was hampered by a hip injury so withdrew from most events.