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COUNTDOWN TO THE GAMES: Speed skaters taking momentum into Canada Games

Addison Bruce, left, of Stratford took home a bronze medal from the recent Harold Joyce Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Fredericton, N.B. (Amanda Burke/Special to The Guardian)
Addison Bruce, left, of Stratford took home a bronze medal from the recent Harold Joyce Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Fredericton, N.B. (Amanda Burke/Special to The Guardian) - Contributed

Charlottetown, P.E.I. – P.E.I.’s short track speed skaters have been putting up personal bests and smashing provincial records the last few years.
The momentum began at the 2015 Canada Games in Prince George, B.C., when the short track team saw some of the best finishes overall for P.E.I. in the Games’ history. Soon after, the likes of Andrew Binns, Jenna Larter and William Lyons gathered medal finishes at the Canada East championships, where most of the country’s top skaters were competing.
Although the final selections for Team P.E.I.’s short track speed skaters are not until next week, returning hopeful, Peter McQuaid has his sights set on bettering his performance from the last Winter Games. Placing in the top 30 overall was admirable, but as with most athletes, nothing would beat a place on the podium. Peter’s brother, Thomas, recently tasted gold at the Harold Joyce Short Track Speed Skating Championships and will also be vying for a spot at this years’ Games. It would be a family affair in Red Deer, Alta., if Peter and Thomas are selected to represent the province.
Personal bests and provincial records aside, all eyes will be on the male relay team this February. The team, currently ranked fifth in the country, will be looking to return home with some hardware.  The group’s youngest hopeful is 14-year-old Lyons, who has been studying under the likes of McQuaid and others for several years now. His long hours on the ice have proven to be worth the efforts as he medalled at the Canada East championships in his age group two years ago. Lyons will undoubtedly be looking to his elders for leadership this time round, but it’s worth noting he will be eligible for the 2023 Winter Games being held on home soil.
Head coach Sarah Taylor, a former Canada Games short track speed skater herself, knows what a valuable experience the Games can be.  She represented Prince Edward Island in the 2003 Games hosted in Campbellton, N.B.
“The last four to five years we have really put Team P.E.I. on the map,” said Taylor. 
She talked about how working with various Island professionals has brought her team to the next level. Tara Costello has been working on the group’s sport psychology, Nancy Fong has been monitoring their nutrition and former Canada Games medallist Matt Caseley created a strength and conditioning program that has proven its weight in gold. Taylor will look to continue on the path she has created for her athletes and will do everything possible to make sure they are performing at their best come February.
Short track speed skating has its limitations in our province in terms of proper sized ice surfaces, but this has not deterred our athletes from performing on the national stage. This message was re-iterated from Islander and former Olympian Jared Connaughton, who spoke with the team this summer. His message inspired the group, and they will no doubt be thinking of the possibilities for their success when it comes time to hit the ice in Red Deer.
For more information on Team P.E.I. and the 2019 Winter Canada Games, stay tuned for more Countdown to the Games articles and be sure to follow Team P.E.I. on Facebook and Twitter.

Jared Murphy is a sport co-ordinator with Sport P.E.I. and will be assistant chef de mission for Team P.E.I. during Week 2 of the 2019 Canada Games.

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