Sixth place at a national meet would be a rather lofty result for any athlete coming from the North.
For Wren Acorn, it means she will get another chance to train with and compete against Canada’s best short-track speedskaters.
The 18-year-old from Yellowknife ended up nailing down her spot in the national team program with her result at the Canada Cup Final in Quebec City this past weekend. It won’t be with the senior team but rather with the NextGen program, Speed Skating Canada’s high-performance development squad. She retained her spot by being the third-best finisher in her age category.
“That’s exactly what I was targeting,” said Acorn. “I went in knowing I would have to be at my best and my goal was to wear that maple leaf for another season and I got it.”
Like most other national meets, each skater was awarded points based on where they finished in each of the races, with a cumulative total kept to determine the overall results. Each of the distances — 500-metre, 1,000-metre and 1,500-metre — was held twice. When everything was added together from all six races, Acorn ended up with a total of 11,384 points.
First up for Acorn on the ice was the 1,500-metre, her bread-and-butter distance. She put down a good marker in the first one, finishing fourth. The second 1,500-metre result was even better: third place and a bronze medal.
“It was real good to go out and get those results and good point totals in the early going,” said Acorn. “It took the pressure off of having to look at the other races and try to make up points, had I not had those finishes. You end up putting yourself in a position where you start making errors in judgment when you try and push yourself later in the meet, so having two top-fours in my best distance was important.”
The 500-metre races weren’t the best results Acorn has ever had as she ended up sixth in the first race and 12th in the second.
She said the reason for the spread in finishes came down to how skaters were seeded in each of those events.
“For the first one, they use your national ranking to determine which heat you start in, but for the second one, it’s your final placing from the first race,” she explained. “I just got caught up in a bad draw after one of the skaters, Victoria Jean-Baptiste, ended up falling in the first race and it didn’t go as well as I would have liked. It’s a race that I’m still trying to work on.”
Acorn had similar finishes in the 1,000-metre: seventh in the first one and sixth in the second, and she said it remains a work in progress when it comes to being more competitive in that distance.
“I’m still figuring out how to attack it,” she said. “I’m happy with those results but I know I still have more to learn in order to be more consistent.”
For the next month, Acorn is back home in Yellowknife, where she’ll be resting before heading back to her home training base in Montreal at the end of April to start the process for next season.
“I missed home,” she said. “It’s good to be back and see my family and just enjoy a bit of down time after a very busy season. Everyone here (in Yellowknife) has been so supportive and I’m just so thankful to have that backing.”