Kelowna's Nick Goplen will compete with Team Canada this weekend at a long track speed skating event in Salt Lake City.

Nick Goplen to compete with Canadian speed skating team

22-year-old Kelowna native earns spot at Continental qualifier in Utah after a strong performance at Canadian championships

Kelowna’s Nick Goplen will wear Canada’s colours at the Continental Regional Qualifier for long track speed skating this weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Goplen is coming off a fourth-place overall finish at the Canadian Long Track Championships last weekend in Calgary, after competing in the 500m, 1,500m, and 5000m events.

Goplen set personal best times in the 1,500 and 5,000.

He will join the top six skaters in the country at the qualifier which also features athletes from the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The competition in Salt Lake is part of the selection process for Canada’s team for the world all-round championships, Feb. 15 and 16 in Hamar, Norway.

Goplen, who turns 22 on Sunday, was the only non-national team member to crack the top six.

In late October, Nick suffered a major cut to his ankle and was unable to put on a pair of skates for several weeks. An off-ice program and a lot of patience proved enough for him to make the team. Goplen represented Canada in November 2009 in the Regional Junior World Cup featuring Canada and United States, but this is his international debut as a senior.

“He has trained very hard and overcome a few obstacles to reach this level of success,” said Nancy Goplen, head coach of the Okanagan Regional Training Centre. “It was one of his season goals so it is great for him to achieve this milestone. He is not affiliated with the national or Calgary Oval Program so it is confirmation that what he is doing is working.”

“He has a great support system in Kelowna and a coaching team including myself that guide him on his day to day programs,” Goplen added. “He is also highly motivated to do the work.”

Meanwhile, Josie Spence, 18, from Kamloops, a product of the Okanagan Regional Training Centre, will join Goplen on the Continental team.  Spence also qualified for the 2013 world junior team.

Last year, she represented Canada at the junior worlds and raced to a 10th place finish in the 3000m.

In the Canada Cup portion of the competition in Calgary, which included the next level of skaters in Canada, both Abigail McCluskey,16, and Emilie Medland Marchen, 17, from the Kelowna Speed Skating Club, had success. Both skaters arrived in Calgary in advance of the competition to train on the 400m oval with Okanagan regional coach, Nancy Goplen. McCluskey, in her first long track season, was ninth overall after two 500m events with a personal best of 42.17 (previous 42.89). Medland-Marchen placed 17th in the 500 with a new personal of of 42. 80 (previous season best of 43.3).

McCluskey also placed 28th in the 1000m with a personal best of 1.28.37, followed by Medland-Marchen in 28th.  In the 1500m, Abilgail came 20th in the 1500m with a new personal best of 2:17.87 while Medland-Marchen came 23rd.  In the 3000m, Medland-Marchen came 22nd followed by McCluskey in 26th.

“These were great results for our local Okangan skaters,” said Nancy Goplen. “They beat many competitors who train full time in Calgary or Quebec City or who have 400-metre long track ovals in their communities. Our girls spent a weekend skating at Big White prior to Christmas and four days at the Calgary Oval prior to the competition.”


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