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Skating Athletes vie for a spot at Canada Winter Games qualifier

Speed skating athletes compete in the 1500-metre race during the meet in Warman on October 27

The Saskatoon Lions Speed Skate Club hosted a meet on October 27 at the Legends Centre, which also was one of the qualifiers for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
The meet was the first of two competitions where points went toward qualifying for the Canada Winter Games.
Twelve females and 11 males competed in the winter games qualifier races.
Each athlete competed in four races (500, 1000, 1500 and 3000 metre races) and the points from those finals will be a deciding factor in qualifying for the Winter Games.
A meet in Caronport later in November also acts as a qualifier.
It’s the same process as the competition that took place in Warman.
Only the top five in points from both the female and male categories will be able to represent Team Sask. in short track at the Canada Winter Games.
After the four races in the Male 1 category; Warman’s Brad Heit (Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club), Marc-Andre Doyon (Moose Jaw Kiwanis Speed Skating Club), Joshua Comfort (Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club), Keagan Waddinton (Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club) and Warman’s Daniel Pauli (Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club finished in the top five in points. Those athletes are in prime position to qualify for the Canada Winter Games.
Vanessa Coutu, Martensville’s Annika Marshall, Warman’s Ceili Bracha, Meela Riben and Heather Harrison finished in the top five in points of the female category, for the Canada Winter Games trials. All five of those athletes compete in the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club.
Heit, who finished first in points has a pretty good shot of making Team Sask. for short track, but he has his sights on the long track team, where only four males and four females make the team.
“I’m going for long track if I qualify for both. They have you sign a form prior to the qualifications, saying, ‘do you want to go for this or do you want to go for that.’ If I don’t make long track and I just make short track, then I’m going for short track, Heit said.”
Being selected to compete in the Canada Winter has been a goal of Heit’s since he started training for it four years ago.
“Everybody that was eligible, (across the province) they got put in the program and they said, ‘this is the training, this is what you can do to make the team,’ Heit said.
Athletes that were eligible for the program included Marc-Andre Doyon and Joshua Comfort, who finished second and third in points respectively, at the Warman meet.
Doyon skates with the Moose Jaw Kiwanis Speed Skating Club and the majority of the skaters in theMale 1 group were from the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club, which presented a challenge when competing against them.
“They train together, so they know how they skate. I’m still learning how they (each competitor in the club) skate, so I’m learning as I’m competing,” Doyon said.
When Doyon started training to be a serious competitor for the winter games he was fairly new to the sport and he didn’t expect to be where he is at today.
“As the years went by and I grew taller and just worked out more, I saw myself, with theses guys (the top skaters) and I was like OK I’m going to go for my shot.”
While both Heit and Doyon want to pursue long track at the winter games, if they qualify for the event, Joshua Comfort is going to compete in short track if he qualies for both disciplines.
Comfort has a pretty good chance making the Team Sask short track team, after the third place finish. He is glad that his training is paying off.
“Just a lot of persistence and just a lot of work over the summer ended up paying off,” Comfort said.

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