It’s been nearly 18 months since Wren Acorn had a meaningful speedskating event to attend — February 2020, to be exact.
But late last month in Montreal, Acorn returned to the ice for a massive competition — and she felt she had something to prove.
Acorn was one of 20 women’s skaters from around the country — and the only one from the North — to hit the ice for the Canadian Short Track Championships, which wrapped up this past Sunday. Acorn ended up in 13th place overall with a total of 8,144 points. The points were awarded based on where a skater finished in each distance.
She said she’s quite all right with 13th.
“I didn’t have a set placement goal going in,” she said. “The women that competed are so talented and they are the best in Canada and I felt I had something to prove… past competitions have always been about experience for me, but this time I went in wearing the Team Canada uniform.”
There was also the little sidebar of the NextGen team, which Acorn is a part of and will continue to be a part of as her overall result put her third among the NextGen contingent. That means she’ll return to the NextGen program for another season.
The competition featured three main distances: 500, 1,000 and 1,500-metre races — with three races happening in each one. The final point tally was based on the two best scores in the two best distances for each skater. Acorn’s total comprised her two best point results from the 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre races with all of her 500-metre races not factoring into the final total; she was able to drop those outright and not have them affect her tally.
Acorn, 18, said the 1,500-metre was definitely her best event as evidenced by her total of 2,654 points from her two best races, an eighth-place finish each time.
“It’s the distance where I’m at my most comfortable,” she said. “I know the patterns, it fits my physical make-up and my fitness. I felt I fit in very well and I’m happy with where I finished.”
Going into the competition, Acorn put all of the focus on her own performance, not anything or anyone else.
“I wanted to make sure no one else mattered because when you start worrying about what others are doing or how many points they’ve scored or anything like that, they have your focus,” she said. “It’s all about my performance. I look at the other skaters as pawns on the ice. I need to be strategic and get my best results, not worry about what others are doing because I can’t control what they do.”
The competition schedule was similar to what one would find at the Winter Olympics and that’s because this doubled as the trials for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China this coming February.
Acorn wasn’t in the mix for an Olympic spot but she said it was important to see it play out in front of her.
“I saw women fighting for those spots and that was a great learning experience for me,” she said. “It was a long competition and it’s a lot of racing but it was an incredible experience to watch that. It gives me an idea of what I’ll be seeing in four years time when I get my first chance and that will be my time to fight.”
However, there may be some international travel in Acorn’s near future.
She said there’s a possibility of heading to the Netherlands for a training camp along with some rather lofty competitions.
“There’s the World University Games (Universiade) in Switzerland in December and I’m eligible to qualify for the World Junior (Short Track) Championships in Poland next March,” she said. “I’m hoping to be able to do all of that, if everything goes according to plan.”