Ah, the good ol’ days. Remember those? Those days when Michael Gilday was doing the North proud on the ice? Iqaluit trying to claim him as one of their own (technically they could because he was born there in the pre-Iqaluit, Nunavut days of Frobisher Bay, NWT)?
Well, those days could come back and a lot sooner than you think because there is another young speedskater who is on the cusp of something real good.
But a lot of you knew about that already so consider this column a bit of emphasis, if you will.
Wren Acorn flew the flag for the North at the Canadian Short Track Championships in Montreal late last month and finished 13th overall on the women’s side. It was out of 20 and you may think ‘Geez, she finished well back’ but then you factor in that she’s just 18 and, all of a sudden, 13th in the country in your first year as an adult ain’t something to take cover over.
Besides, Acorn wasn’t competing for an Olympic spot (the trials of which, by the way, were happening alongside the national championships) but she got a front-row seat for that and from what she told me, she loved watching it. I’m willing to wager she wanted to be there mixing it up with them because she is as competitive as they come but her day is approaching.
That day will be sometime in 2025 following eradication of the Zeta variant but before the next big thing to come and shut us down. My best guess, gang.
If you know Acorn well enough, you will know she is one of the most determined, committed, wall-breaking athletes there is out of Yellowknife right now. If she’s not winning, she’ll find a reason why she didn’t win, neutralize it, plan an appropriate plan of attack and kill it so it isn’t a problem anymore. It’s sort of like when I suggested years ago Gilday go out and proceed to punch, pound and kick the crap out of anyone who got in his way on the road to the 2014 Winter Olympics after missing the 2010 edition in Vancouver by the distance of your outstretched thumb and index finger.
It was figuratively, of course, because I didn’t want to be sued. That can get expensive. But you catch my drift, don’t you? Acorn has already figured out that in order to be at the top, you have to think like you’re at the top. You can’t simply go fast at practice and think to yourself ‘Gee whiz, who’s gonna catch me?’
You’ll find out quickly who can catch you because you will find out the hard way how many people are faster than you once you step on the ice. Being the best locally is a whole helluva lot different than being the best nationally.
Something else I picked up from Acorn is her selfishness. No, hear me out on this one because it’s a good thing.
Short track is a solo sport for the most part, save the men’s and women’s relay. As Acorn eluded to, there is only one person that matters and that’s her. It’s all about what she’s going to do on race day and not anyone else. You can hope someone has an off-day but we all know what will happen if you hope in one hand and spit in the other, right?
When it’s a solo sport, you have to be selfish because if you aren’t, what’s the point? At this level, you aren’t trying your best and making new friends and coming home safely. You’re trying to move up the Team Canada food chain and onto a national team. Acorn will be on the NextGen team, the developmental squad, for this season and that’s what she wanted. But, like I said, if you know her well enough, you know she wants more and she’ll do whatever she has to do to get it.
And if she wants to be selfish, give ‘er. Take it all and laugh all the way because in short track, greed is good.