Fastest Ice In The World

Calgary’s Olympic Oval is the reason we came out here this week. Our son attended a Speed Skating Camp at the Oval. He has his own ambitions and my wife and I want to see him succeed. I’m most impressed by how serious he is wanting to take his training.

Calgary’s Olympic Oval has the world’s fastest ice. Usually our son skates Short Track at our local ice rink and at similar meets in other ice rinks. He decided that he really wanted to get into Long Track Skating, so we got him out to Calgary to try it out. The first four days he wore his Short Track skates and dominated his own abilities.

Sadly, my wife and I ended up buying him his first pair of Long Track boots and blades. I say sadly more for our pocketbook. First these skates cost over $1000 and also the fact that we will be doing more traveling to other Long Track ice rinks in the coming years. There is also a new learning curve for him. But I think it’ll work out.

Our son wants to stand on the podium one day. He has set some lofty goals for himself. If my wife and I can help in any way, then we will. Next month- off to another Long Track for some more practice. In the mean time, lots of workouts and sideline cheering to keep him going.

Skating Never Ends

The Speed Skating season is over. But that doesn’t mean that training is over. On Saturday morning I took my son to meet up with some other members of his Speed Skating club for an hour so that they could get a bit of a workout.

It was a beautiful day, so the kids went out on their in-line skates for some more practice. The four of them enjoyed it tremendously. What I really liked was that it was one of the skaters that wanted to arrange this, not a parent or coach. Speed Skating is a serious endeavor for those involved. The fact that these kids are taking it seriously makes me proud.

I need to get myself more disciplined like these youngsters. Perhaps it’s time for me to put my inline skates back on…

Live From Grande Prairie

Today is the day our son Theory competes for Team BC at CAN WEST Speed Skating. He is racing in the T2T 12 Male. T2T=Train to Train- big plans for future Olympians! (At least that’s how I see it.)

Yesterday was a warm up and a chance for the coaches to give some pointers to the team. Over the past few months- these kids were competing against each other to gain a spot for this. Now there will be a few times that they need to work together to achieve a team goal.

We are going to be cheering for the BC Team. If you wish to watch a live stream of the events, the arena is broadcasting it on their Facebook Page. I’ve shared it already with friends and family. So of course I want anyone and everyone to watch it! Check the link below:

Here’s the Facebook link: Canada West Speed Skating Championship

As a father of one of the kids completing- I’m going to be one of “those” parents cheering and screaming loudly. If you choose to watch the live stream- be sure and listen for me calling out to my son- “GO Theory!” You too can scream at your phone or computer to offer support. He will be wearing helmet number 65. I’d love it. And I’m sure our team of skaters will appreciate the love as well! Even messages of encouragement make all the difference.

I’m off to cheer now.

Putting The “Ice” in Practice

Today is the final practice for my son and his cohorts before we head out to Grande Prairie, Alberta. We are proud parents knowing that Theory has made it this far competitively. As well as the fact that he is eager to do his best.

On Monday, he was so eager that he hit the ice before anyone else and began doing laps. His determination comes through when he hits the competitions. These last couple days he has been taking the advice of the coaches and utilizing their knowledge to better himself.

I can’t wait to see how he does at a bigger competition with more pressure on him. My hope is that next year he keeps up the determination and enthusiasm for Speed Skating.

Winter Won’t End

It seems winter isn’t over quite yet. At least here it isn’t. I’m really happy about it as well.

What is funny was our oldest daughter wanted to shovel the driveway after this afternoon’s snowfall. I didn’t want to stop her, so I didn’t. This snow may last only a day or two before thawing into spring. For my family though- this winter will continue for another couple of weeks. We just received some good news.

Our son has earned a spot at the Canada West Speed Skating Championship in Grand Prairie, Alberta in mid-March. He successfully competed in Prince George last weekend to earn this spot. This time, I’ll be taking our son. My wife is thinking she may join me in order to avoid Airport Goodbyes. This is really exciting for us. Our son has worked hard towards this.

So it seems winter will be lasting a bit longer- and I couldn’t be happier.

Airport Goodbyes

Rarely have my wife or I traveled by plane without the other. In fact today is only the third time since we met in the year 2000 that this is occurring. The first time was about fifteen years ago when I had to travel to Toronto for work and be away for two weeks. The second was my wife taking our middle daughter for a cheerleading competition in Los Angeles a few years ago.

This weekend is also for one of our kids- our son. He is competing in a speed skating competition in Northern BC. My wife has chosen to take him this weekend, and if he is successful- I’ll be taking him to the next one in a couple of weeks.

Today was a quick drop off at the airport. I had barely stopped the car and the two of them had jumped out and were on their way. A quick hug for me and that was it. Their short flight had them flying off in a small plane. They even landed before I had a chance to finish driving home and writing this blog.

I wish I had a longer goodbye, but it wasn’t necessary this time around. They’ll be back home by Sunday. But I’ll still miss them. Wishing I could be there to show support to our son. I can’t wait to hear the results of his meet.

Getting Back Up

Cheering for our kids at their speed skating events brings me great pleasure. Today we are spending another Saturday at a Speed Skating competition. This time in Richmond at the 2010 Olympic Oval.

For a building that’s almost a decade old, it’s still in pretty good condition. The risers have remained in the Vancouver Olympic colours scheme. They’ve even left the banners up from the 2010 games offering a visual inspiration for future Olympians.

Our little group from Langley is always cheering each other’s kids as much as possible. But watching the kids can be stressful. As each race last about 45 seconds, it can be the longest 45 seconds in the day. The reason is we don’t want to see the kids fall- because a fall is inevitable at some point during the day. You just hope it’s not one of yours that takes a tumble.

Not so lucky for us. Today, as Darwin was in the lead, she lost her footing. It knocked the wind out of her and she didn’t finish her last two laps. She got off the ice on her own accord, which is always a good sign.

Because she didn’t get up right away- the paramedics were required to check her out. Everything seemed okay and she will be back to race her last two races after lunch.

Getting back up or back on the ice can be emotionally challenging. Getting back out there is the best way to overcome the tumbles and falls. We will be giving some extra cheers for Darwin on the next couple of races.

The road to success has many stumbling blocks. Getting back at it and learning from the mistakes is sometimes a painful lesson to learn.

Where’d The Day Go?

I lost my day today.

It wasn’t like it didn’t happen. On the contrary, lots happened which is why I’ve lost my day. More like lost control of the day.

First was an early morning Speed Skating Meet. It was the first one at our club for the season. So at least it was close by. In between my children’s races I was trying to finish a book- Aramada. So I often got lost in the story while waiting.

On the way home, I had to stop and put in my vote for a Mayor, some township councilors, and some school trustees. This opened up a healthy discussion about politics with my 12 and 14 year olds. They asked who and why I was voting for certain people. As much as I don’t want to create a bias in their future plans- I couldn’t very well not talk about it with them.

At home we had a late lunch and the kids showered up. We had bought a large picnic pork roast, so I carved it into four different meals. A big hunk for tonight’s dinner in the slow cooker. Some got cubed and tossed in the freezer for future use. I sliced a bunch for breakfasts later this week. That left the bone- which will go towards a split pea soup later this autumn.

Now I am waiting to pick up our 16 year old at school. She participated in a 48 hour Zoom Fest. It started Thursday at 5pm and ended today. The students had that time to create a short film. I hope to see the results at some point, but for now- I’m impressed by her commitment to a deadline and her ability to work with others on such a project.

So my day just went quickly and was filled with a lot of life. Maybe I didn’t lose my day after all.

Rather- I lived it.

Late Night/Early Morning

Having a late Friday night isn’t what it once was for me. Especially when I am required to have an early Saturday morning. Drinking and partying isn’t in play that’s for sure. This sacrifice is for our kids.

Friday evenings we spend a couple hours at an ice rink in our town while the kids practice Speed Skating. We get home by 9pm and have dinner. We hope to go to bed by 11pm. Saturday mornings we are up early to head out to a different ice rink that’s at least 45 minutes away from our home just so the kids can get one more hour of “ice time”.

Next weekend is the first competition. A good chance for the kids to see who they are up against this season. We kept our kids active all summer with dry land training, so hopefully their muscles can be better prepared.

If our kids didn’t like doing skating, we would’ve given this up years ago. But they love it. They have a drive and determination I don’t think I ever possessed. Plus, all of their friendships and competitions aren’t “ugly”. In fact at every meet, there is great sportsmanship shown.

They’re pretty good at this Skating thing. Volunteering my time is the least I can do for them. Calling out words of encouragement from the sidelines is my way of showing I care as well.

Olympic Oval Package Unboxing

On Thursday our middle child received a box from the Olympic Oval in Calgary. Well, mom and dad forked over a few hundred dollars and bought the stuff inside- but it was still exciting for her to open it up!

The top of the box was super taped shut with their logo tape on it. So our daughter grabbed a knife and sliced open the box.

Inside was a “Thank You” card from the University Of Calgary and a bunch of air packs protecting their inventory. Our daughter has been planning to go to this university for a while now, I think this makes her a bit more excited about the idea.

Inside the box was a brand new Speed Skating helmet and some skating boots. Now she doesn’t need to borrow our club’s used equipment anymore. This weekend, we will heat up the boots and form them around her ankles to create a better fit.

For my wife and I, these items are an investment into our children. Speed Skating promotes health, activeness and sportsmanship. Promoting these values in our children is important as the grow up. Since our children have been Speed Skating since 2010, I have no issues buying better equipment for them to use. Even when our daughters have taken time off in the past- they always want to come back to skating.

I’m excited for our daughter and her new equipment. I think she will get some good use out of it. Who knows, maybe she will attend the University of Calgary and skate for them while she does studies.

May Day Parade 2018

For the first time ever, a couple of our children have been involved in a parade. They were really excited to be a part of it, and I think it has been a great experience for them.

Fort Langley has had this parade ongoing for nearly 100 years. That in itself is exciting. It is generally a place to show off small businesses, clubs, and promote a sense of community. We have previously taken our children to watch these parades when they were little. As well, prior to having a family, I worked at the theater and was a part of a couple of these parades.

Our children met up with a group of speed skaters to promote our club- The Langley Blades. All of the kids were full of smiles from the start all the way through, as the marched down the streets of Fort Langley. Our children enjoyed seeing their friends who were also promoting other groups in the parade. Even along the streets, their classmates and friends called out to them and waved. Little kids in the crowd were so happy that candy was being handed out!

I ran into some old friends along the route and stopped to talk. Seems most parents are here to watch and support their own children as well in the parade. There is a sense of pride to see your children out there- I waved to the ones I knew and could see the smiles on each and every one of them- even if they didn’t recognize me.

All-in-all I’m glad that my children volunteer their time and are very proud of what they do. Maybe a couple more parades are in order over the next few years?

The Big Speed Skating Competition.

Today is day one of BC Short Track Championships. Our 11 year old son is competing. This is the set of races that he has been working towards all year. This is also his first year representing Langley Blades. His name was even in print. That means a lot to a young man.

This is the big event for kids and teens across our Province. Our son will compete against many of his friends from other clubs. Healthy competition and fun rivalries are abundant this weekend.

With the National Anthem finished being sung, it will soon be time to start the races. Two long days ahead of us. For our son, the other skaters and all of the audience members cheering on family and friends- it’s time to focus, stretch, and get mentally ready. Maybe one day, some of these skaters will represent our country in the Olympics. Encouraging them at a young age is paramount to their development. Time to cheer them on.

Go Skaters!

Go Langley!

Go Theory!

Stop. Watch.

Today is another Saturday of Speed Skating for my two youngest. As the season progresses- their abilities increase. This is their first meet after the Christmas break but only a few race meets remain before the big three. Canwest, BC Winter Games, Provincials. This means my children need to get better times.

They each have personal bests. Of course the goal is to beat those PBs not just for themselves but to secure a spot in one of the 3 big races. Usually as I watch the races, I take pictures or video in order to reflect on afterwards with the kids. Seeing where their strengths were and what they could do to improve. Starts/stances/crossovers/etc… if my wife is at the races, she usually times them with her phone instead. I don’t like to use my iPhone in that way.

Today I decided not to film my children. I chose to watch them through my eyes-not the lens of a camera. I ended up buying a stop watch at this event in order to time them. It is much more accurate especially when a phone goes dark during the longer races. In fact, my time matched the official’s time exactly on a couple of the races.

Having an official stop watch will be handy. It also means that I can focus my attention on watching my kids more. This means more yelling of encouragement from the stands by dad. No more photos or videos for the next few meets. I can now put down my iPhone to stop and watch them.

Being Competitive.

Today we traveled out of town for a speed skating meet. We left the comfort of the Lower Mainland and traveled to Kamloops. There’s actually snow on the ground out here and it’s cold! Strange concept for attending a competitive winter sport. Considering we were in t-shirts the other day back home. 


We had to come out to this meet for our children to get faster ice times. Being in a higher elevation, the ice is harder in Kamloops. Back home- the ice is softer. We needed to get a better time for our daughter to try and get her a “Wild Card” entry into BC Winter Games Feb.23-25 2018. Which will also take place here in Kamloops.


Our two kids are of different skill levels, but had to compete in a race together. It’s not always about who is first, but rather their times. But it still caused some nerves in our daughter. With one false start, they needed to have a second start. At the end of the race, the kids were congratulating each other.

All the other kids/teens that attend these meets start to get to know one another over the years. Even though we had the only two skaters from Langley/Lower Mainland at this competition- our kids know many of the other skaters. Lots of hanging out with them off ice as mom and dad fret over whether they are going to beat their previous times.


Later this evening, we will journey back home. Hopefully the roads will be clear enough for us to get home safely. I almost wish I had a zamboni to drive. That’d be fun.

It’s All In The Routine

School’s in.  Now the after school activities are beginning.  Tonight is back to Speed Skating!  Yay! Ice rinks!

Our son has returned to begin his seventh year.  His older sister has also decided to return after a four year hiatus.  She was doing Cheer Leading during this time.  But now she wants to get back into competition speed skating.


Our son was like a bullet as he went back on the ice.  Faster than ever and not stopping. All of his friends greeted him enthusiastically as they raced around.

Unlike our daughter. Her first few steps were wobbly and a bit fearful. Much like riding a bike, she figured it out and began gaining her confidence. As the skating season continues, I’m excited to watch them both improve.


Our oldest child has also decided to return to the ice.  Unlike her brother and sister though, she will be volunteering her time as a junior coach and at the various meets. To graduate high school she needs a certain amount of volunteer hours.  This should help her out tremendously.

So we are back to spending our Wednesday & Friday nights at the rink. Plus the occasional weekend. Parenting is a good way to transfer your social life over to your children’s. At least the other parents here are in the same boat.

One Race Closer to Pursuing The Gold


About a year ago I shared a story and aspirations I have for my son.  Here is the link: My Son- The Future Olympian.  Today I am with him again as he is working hard competing in another set of races.  This time we are at the Richmond Oval on the outskirts of Vancouver.  This was the location where the Speed Skating events were held during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


Throughout the building there are inspirational images of the past Canadian athletes that partook in previous Olympics.  Seven years later- the facility is well maintained and busy.  The city has split the large oval into two separate rinks, and a dozen basketball courts. There’s a ping pong table tournament area as well as a sectioned off for a Cheerleading competition.  (Coincidentally, the Cheerleading competition that my daughter will be attending later today.)


These skating meets can be overwhelming.  The hardest part about these competitions is the waiting.  Waiting alongside racers from other clubs can feel intimidating.  Before the races, my son hangs out with his friends in the facility-  often playing on iPads, iPhones, or wandering around and even taking a break to play drop-in ping pong during lunch.  There is a special camaraderie in our skating club.  As the skaters are on the ice- the rest of the group cheers from the stands offering encouragement.


All of this waiting is for his two minutes of ice time.  During his two minutes of work- my son pushes his limits.  At his age, places don’t matter as much as his times for his age group.  So even if he comes in third out of five, his time may push him up another level for the next meet.  He wants to beat his personal best times. Sometimes he wants to improve his stance and form- so he focuses intently on that.   


When he gets on the ice- it’s him vs his own nerves.   He has a determination that shows up when he is on the ice.  As if he is the only soul in the arena.  The last person who can psyche him out is himself.  He has put himself out there and pushes his boundaries.

I’m proud of our son.

Arenas

The smell of the atmosphere inside the arena.  The sound of skates clacking and screeching on ice.  The laughter and screams from the children echo around the building.  Welcome to Friday Night Speedskating.


This is the first of many evenings spent at the arena.  The building isn’t like the ones I remember going to for skating.  Those old arenas had a strange ammonia scent that filled the air as the zamboni cleaned the ice.  I miss those old buildings of cedar wood with large ceiling heaters covered in dust.  The smell of sweat and cigarettes lingered in the air.  The arenas often found in the industrial parts of town.  In fact, one of our favorite Speed Skating meets is in such a place.  


But this building is far superior.  There are numerous rinks, a couple of viewing areas on the second floor.  Plenty of televisions on the walls and extremely well maintained.  It’s located on the edge of a well established suburb with nice homes nearby.  Close to the industrial part, but not in the middle like they once were.  I will be spending many Wednesdays and Fridays here with my son until Springbreak.

My son loves to Speed Skate.  I wrote about him a few months ago in My son- The Future Olympian.  Speed skating gives him exercise and keeps him active.  It’s a supportive but also competitive environment.  There are lots of other local skating clubs.  My son has made friends at many of the skating meets as they cheer each other on.  It’s a great feeling to hear your son’s name chanted through the stands.  He may not always get first place, but he sure doesn’t give up.

Here I sit writing my blog in between his warm ups, drills and practice races.  I suspect I will write more about speed skating as the days go on.  

So, as long as he loves it, my wife and I will continue to support him.

Go Theory!

My son- The Future Olympian

As parents, most of us strive to make our children’s lives better than our own.  We get them into good preschools and hope they make lots of friends (but only the good ones with parents that are as like-minded as ourselves).  Then we push to get them into the right classroom with the right teacher, and sometimes even a better school.  We enter our children into after school programs, music lessons, sporting activities, and buy them electronics so they aren’t left behind by society.  We do all of this because we think it’s the right thing to do.

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You have to start somewhere.  Learning how to balance on his speed skates.

 

And it is- for the most part.  As they get older, they start to push back.  Their schedules dominate your own social life.  Suddenly, years go by and you wonder to yourself if you are doing the right thing.  Giving up is so much easier than arguing or forcing yourself to drive out of town.  Suddenly, a moment hits you like a ton of bricks.

 

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First place all the way.

There is your child superseding your expectations.  All those arguments, all those hours, all coming to fruition as they lead the pack.  You jump up and realize their potential is still there as you cheer them on.  Now, more than ever you want to boost your child up and help them reach for their goals.  All those future hours and arguments don’t matter, because at this exact moment, they are number one in your eyes.  Nothing will take that away from them, or you for that matter.

My son, the future Olympian.  I still have dreams for him and I hope he strives for the same goal.  The choice in the end is his.  I am proud of how far he’s gotten in just five years.  I don’t know where he will be in five years, but I’m willing to put forth the effort and support him in his decisions.

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How he’s grown over 5 years.