Junior speed skaters from across Alberta were at Setters Place over the weekend to compete in what was the first official race at the long track speed skating facility since it opened last December. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

First official speed skating competition held at Setters Place this weekend

More than 100 junior speed skaters from across Alberta competed in the Jeremy Wotherspoon Open

Junior speed skaters from across Alberta took to the skating oval at Setters Place this past weekend.

The two-day competition was the first official race at the long track speed skating facility since it opened last December.

The event is named after Canadian speed skating great and former Red Deer resident Jeremy Wotherspoon.

Skaters as young as six and as old as 16 competed in the first annual Jeremy Wotherspoon Open hosted by the Red Deer Central Lions Speed Skating Club.

“It was a great weekend of skating. We had tons of personal best times,” said Coach Shawna Pearman with Red Deer’s speed skating Club.

The competition also served as a qualifier for the Canadian Age Class Long Track competition in Winnipeg in February.

The Setters Place oval in Great Chief Park will also serve as the long track speed skating venue for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, which kicks of Feb. 15th.

Team Alberta speed skaters tested the ice on Saturday and liked what they saw.

“They thought it was super fast,” Pearman said.

Red Deer native Maddison Pearman, who is training with the Skate Canada NextGen Team in Calgary, was at the event handing out medals after the competition.

The former Lions Speed Skating Club member said the outdoor oval is a great chance for young skaters to develop their skills.

“As everyone gets older they go to Calgary and you don’t get to compete on outdoor ice as often. The ice is fast and it’s a brand new facility. It’s super important for kids to come out here and have fun for a weekend,” she said.

Maddison, who is studying at the University of Calgary, said she is training full-time and has set her sights on the 2022 Winter Olympics.

“I’m trying to chase the Olympic dream.”

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