Speed Skating in Kitimat, 1987 - 1994
Supported by the Kitimat Recreation Department, the Kitimat Speed Skating Club held its first meeting in November 1987 at Riverlodge Recreation Centre. Those who wished to learn more about the Olympic sport were encouraged to come out and meet the coach Rhianon Watson (Snider) who would provide speed skates on loan – first come, first served – and give free instruction in December to anyone interested. Over the years, a number of speed skating meets were held including the Fraser Lake Interclub Speed Skating meet with four northern clubs and the 1993 BC Winter Games held in Kitimat.
Anne Sluyter and Tom Balfour later coached the Kitimat competitive speed skaters, a group that “skated well and demonstrated good sportsmanship.” (Kitimat Northern Sentinel, December 15, 1993) Twenty skaters of all ages regularly came out for practices. In 1993 Alcan provided funds for the Club to purchase 80 feet of safety crash mats to be used for the Winter Games during short track – a 100-metre oval race with competitors racing against each other and the clock. Another fundraiser, a skate-a-thon in 1992, raised $500 for equipment for the Club.
Speed skating blades are long, thin and straight with an offset cut to allow a very deep lean into the corners.