Local speed skater to represent Canada

‘You have to work really hard for all the success you want out of this sport. Never give up and keep working towards it and you’ll get there.’ That’s the advice five-time world champion Catriona LeMay Doan gave to Red Deer’s Gabrielle Waddell.

And that advice has stuck with Waddell as she has just been named one of six short track speed skaters to represent Canada at four up and coming Word Cup Events. Waddell has always idolized LeMay Doan.

“As a very young child I kind of looked up to Catriona LeMay Doan. With all her success in long track and everything.”

When she was young and growing up in Red Deer, Waddell’s active parents wanted her to be involved in sports. “Growing up our parents put us into every sport possible. My parents put me in it (power skating) when I was five to learn how to skate. I just stayed with the club and then kept at it year after year and continued progressing.”

Waddell’s journey to this point was not one marred with great fortune. She worked for every break.

“Luck doesn’t really get you very far in this sport. To be consistent and to produce the results that you want, luck doesn’t have anything to do with it I think.”

Luck doesn’t have a training schedule either. Waddell does. “We train six days a week, twice a day. Training sessions are usually two to three hours each.”

Waddell has resided in Calgary for the last five years training with the national team. Her coach is Jon Cavar led the national team to five gold medals in Vancouver at the Olympics. He was also the Canadian champion in 1998, so it’s clear she’s in good hands.

And it wasn’t luck that brought Waddell to the Canadian trials that were held in Montreal in mid-September. “I placed in the top six and there was a good chance they were going to send me to all four of the World Cups.”

And after the ice settled and the times were calculated, Waddell placed fifth. She hoped for an invitation to the World Cup events, even expected one. But still had to wait a week before the official word came down from the short track high performance committee.

“With the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games 28 months away it was important that the committee maximizes the benefits of team selection for each World Cup,” said Yves Hamelin, SSC’s short track program director. “With the 2011-12 season serving as the first half of the Olympic cycle, this time and these events are important in providing less experienced skaters more international competition. Our discretionary selections allow us to continue building a strong foundation for the best team possible for key international events.”

The four World Cups will be taking place held in Salt Lake City, Utah, Saguenay, Quebec, Nagoya, Japan and Shanghai, China.

Of the four places the one that stands out most, is in Quebec. But skating in front of a home crowd doesn’t change things for Waddell. “I’m really looking forward to the second one (world cup event) which is in Montreal. I have lots of family coming to watch and it will be great having all the Canadians there supporting you.”

If Waddell seems level headed, when it comes to competing in front of friends and family, remember she’s been doing this all her life. And however reserved she may seem about the World Cup event in Saguenay, Quebec, she cannot hide that she’s looking forward to visiting Nagoya, Japan. “I’m really excited to go to Japan. I’m excited to experience that.”

Regardless, how exciting or subdued Waddell seems, one thing seems for certain, if she continues on this path, she may find herself following in LeMay Doan’s footsteps, by winning a gold medal at the World Championships.