Braeden Picek cracked the top 20 for his first skate in several years, but said he knows he can do better.

“I’m happy with the results,” he said, adding he had wanted to rank higher. “I wanted to rank in the top-10. I know I can. It’s my first weekend back after not racing for a couple of years and the racing was a little bit off.

“But definitely feel I can be in the top ten of that group of skaters.”

Placing 20th overall in the first Canada Cup event at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, Nov. 5 to 7, the Inuvik-born speed skater was effectively shaking the rust off after taking a break from his sport of 10 years. But that didn’t stop him from excelling or pushing through adversity when he fell during the 1,500 metre ‘C’ final.

Initially falling behind, Picek said he was able to recover by focusing on his coaches yelling to sprint to catch up. It took him several laps and he admitted he was nearly exhausted by the time he caught up with the pack, but was able to reset his focus and hang on to finish first overall in the race.

“I fell at the start of the race, about a lap in,” he said. “Then I slowly worked to catch up. It took me a while to get to the front, but I got there on the last lap and won the race.

“At the time I didn’t think I had much of a chance, but my coaches were yelling at me. It only took two or three laps to catch.”

Now, having qualified for the next round, Picek is back at the rink, practising 10 times a week to work out the wrinkles in his technique and be ready for Canada Cup 2 in February at the Oval.

Competition will be way faster, so Picek is hoping to at least match his results from this time around.

This is the time to reflect and tweak his training regimen, he noted. With several months to go, he can figure out the gaps in his program before gunning down to prepare for the next big competition.

“There’s recreational competitions before then, but they’re mostly for experience,” he said. “I have my eye on Canada Cup 2. It will be a harder competition and there will be more skaters there, so being top 20 in that would be very satisfying.

“That will qualify me for Canada Cup finale.”

Working with the Elite Athlete Pathway Program at the Olympic Oval at the University of Calgary, Picek said he’s benefiting from a wealth of experience and teamwork.

He’s also got his eyes on starting a degree in kinesiology in the coming fall.

“It aligns with what I’m interested in learning,” he said. “I feel actually compelled to learn about it and as an athlete I think it’s something beneficial.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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