NEW MINAS, NS - It’s official: two New Minas speed skaters will soon be on their way to Red Deer, Alberta, to represent the province at the Canada Winter Games.
Ben Eaton and Justin Noakes, members of the Annapolis Valley Speed Skating Club (AVSSC), have both been selected for the Nova Scotia short track team. Both achieved the qualifying times for the short track speed skating team based on their performances at the recent Citadel Cup in Halifax. Official selections for the short and long track teams were announced following the long track team selection meet held on Jan. 12 and 13.
Eaton said he is feeling more relaxed now that his placement on the short track team has been made official. He feels that this is a milestone in his life and he is excited and inspired to put more into his efforts as a speed skater. Eaton said it has also instilled more confidence that he can do better in other areas of life as well.
“I think that this may help to push me further for future events, such as the Canada Winter Games in 2023, and who knows, maybe the Olympics,” Eaton said.
Both Eaton and Noakes are 15 years old. Because the Canada Winter Games is held every four years and because of their relatively young age, it’s possible that Noakes and Eaton will get to compete in speed skating again at the 2023 games.
Eaton said making the short track team has further ramped-up his interest in the sport. He said he’s excited to be working with a physiotherapist who is helping him develop better muscle mass, hopefully resulting in a stronger, faster physique. Eaton’s aim is to achieve personal best times at the Canada Games.
Looking forward to the winter games, Eaton said he wants to experience speed skating at a more professional level. It’s “kind of cool” to be representing his province and having the opportunity to meet other speed skaters from across the country. He is also excited to be visiting Alberta – and travelling on a plane – for the first time. Eaton said the flight would be fun with a bunch of Team Nova Scotia members going together.
Noakes said he feels both excitement and relief to have officially made the short track team. He is pleased to have reached a goal he set for himself four years ago when he met the 2015 Canada Winter Games team. Noakes said it’s “awesome” to be in the top five in Nova Scotia.
Noakes said his approach and training would change in preparation for the games, as he will now stop focusing on long track training to concentrate solely on short track.
“It will be the same amount of work but all on short track,” Noakes said. “There are specific things I need to work on for myself and stuff with the team for the relay event.”
He is looking forward to skating at the games and beating his personal best times on the short track. Noakes said he’s excited to be visiting a new place and to get to travel with the provincial team, both his fellow skaters and athletes competing in other sports. He was also looking forward to the provincial pep rally taking place at Pier 21in Halifax on Jan. 26.
AVSSC president Stephen Raftery said other members of the club are excited to know that Eaton and Noakes will be competing at the Canada Winter Games.
“We’ll be following the games closely and looking forward to hearing about the whole experience,” Raftery said.
Eaton and Noakes will be the first speed skaters from the Valley region to compete at the Canada Winter Games. The 2019 games run from Feb. 15 to March 2.
Founded in 2012, the AVSSC offers learn to skate, recreational and competitive programs. For more information on the club, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Annapolis Valley Speed Skating Facebook page.