Kelowna Skaters: Noah Rubuliak (top left) , Erik Haaheim (middle left) , Jacob Rubuliak (middle right) and coach Nancy Goplen (front second from the left). photo:submitted

Okanagan speed skaters look to impress once again

The skaters are fresh off a trip to the Olympic Oval in Calgary

The Okanagan Regional speed skating training team got a head start on the season with some on ice training on the 400-metre rink at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

The annual trip to Calgary gives the skaters a chance to train hard and get ready to compete.

Abigail McCluskey, 20 years-old from Penticton, is ranked as one of the top 10 in Canada in all distances, and looks to earn a place on the World Cup team in late October. The young athlete began her career in speed skating with the KSSC when she was 15 years old. She has won medals at the 2015 Canada Winter Games and has represented Canada at the 2016 Junior World Long Track Championships. McCluskey is ranked top ten in all distances in Canada, top four in the 3,000 metre and top third in the 5,000 metre.

“She (McCluskey) is very focused when she is on the ice, she is very strong,” Nancy Goplen, KSSC head coach said. “When she got to Calgary she was really rough technically, but she has a new coach from Holland that is going to be what she needs.”

Related: Kelowna skaters secure spots for B.C. Games

Her new coach, Remmelt Emmerling has coached Olympians in the last and Goplen is confident that with his help McCluskey will reach her full potential.

Goplen took three other speed skaters with her, where they gained the equivalent of a month of ice time in five days. The skaters began warming up at 7 a.m. to begin their long day and hit the ice at 7:30 a.m., with intermittent breaks and jumping on the bikes, amounting to a six hour day of training.

“We have a tradition of producing international skaters, many of which end up being in long track which is interesting since we don’t have one in Kelowna,” Goplen said.

Jacob Rubuliak, 15 years old will be vying for a position at the Canada Winter Games after he earned one of four spots last year finishing fourteenth in the 5,000 metre.

Related: Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Erik Haaheim and Noah Rubuliak, are looking to qualify once again for the Canadian Age Class Long Track Championships in Winnipeg in Feb.

The Kelowna speed skating club is back on local ice starting mid Sept.. Registration and skate fitting is Tuesday, Sept. 4 at the Capital News Centre from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. For more information visit the Kelowna Speed Skating website.

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Abigail McCluskey, 20 is coming into the season ranked in the top 10 in Canada in all distances. She will be vying for a place on the World Cup Team that is selected in late October. photo:submitted

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