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Oval hosts speed skating competition

By Emilie Medland-Marchen, October 20 2015 —

The University of Calgary’s Olympic Oval hosted a short track speed skating event on Oct. 16–18. The first portion of the Western Elite Circuit short track competition kicked off with the annual ‘Oktoberfest’ event. The competition featured both local speed skaters — including those on the Canadian National team — and international competitors who train in Calgary.

Day one of the event kicked off on Oct. 16 with 1,500-metre preliminaries, 500-metre preliminaries and 500-metre quarterfinals.

Ontario native Jacob McKenzie had the fastest time in the 1500-metre preliminaries. He was closely followed by Saskatchewan skaters Jesse Slusar and Keegan Christ, who finished second and third, respectively. All three athletes currently train in Calgary under Olympic Oval coach Alan Mcllveen.

Day one women’s events saw Keri Morrison of the Canadian National Development team take home the top spot, followed by Isabelle Carrier and British Columbia native Kaelin McNally.

The second day of the event saw Morrison and McKenzie earn their first points of the weekend by winning the 1500-metre A finals. In the 500-metre men’s semifinals, Saskatchewan’s Keegan Christ took the first-place finish. Polish skater Natalya Malisewska pulled out a win in the women’s 500-metre final.

Building off his success in the 500m, Christ headed into Sunday’s races poised for a medal finish in the overall competition. Christ is one of two siblings in a talented speed skating family — his older sister Kali is an Olympic long track speed skater.

Those competitive genes definitely came into play on Oct. 18 — the final day of the Oktoberfest — when Christ managed to solidify his position as overall champion in the men’s event with a grand total of 26,000 points. Caught in a tight race all weekend with McKenzie, it was Christ’s consistency throughout the weekend that edged out his teammate.

In the women’s events, leading skater Morrison opted out of competing on day two, leaving a tight race for the weekend’s overall medal contenders. Local Olympic Oval skater Isabelle Carrier won the overall event with a solid 22,800 points.

The points won by the skaters this past weekend will also count towards the second portion of the Western Elite Circuit, which takes place in Richmond, B.C. from Dec. 4–6. The action will then return to the Oval for the third portion of the series — the ‘Winterfest’ event — held on Feb. 18–21.

The Oval now looks ahead to the International Skating Union’s World Cup Long Track Competition, which will take place at the U of C from Nov. 13–15. The event will draw a slew of international athletes, including Olympic skaters from Europe, China and North America.

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