Wren Acorn got a taste of what international short-track competition was all about last month in the Netherlands.
She’ll get another taste next month and it’s even bigger than what happened in October.
The 18-year-old Yellowknife speedskater was named on Tuesday as one of 12 skaters for Canada’s short-track entry at the Winter Universiade in Lucerne, Switzerland, which begins on Dec. 11. The Universiade is organized by the International University Sports Federation and happens every two years.
Acorn had to play the waiting game in order to be selected and she said there was not the slightest bit of a hint that she would be chosen.
“A lot of sitting and waiting,” she said. “Those skaters who have higher rankings than I do got first dibs on getting to go but they’re all laser-focused on the (2022) Winter Olympics so that opened things up for me.”
The team is scheduled to leave for Lucerne on Dec. 8 and will return to Canada on Dec. 15, not much of a chance to get to see the city, but Acorn said it’s all about the skating.
“This is a business trip,” she said.
As mentioned, this will be the second time Acorn will get to wear the maple leaf; the first chance came at the International Invitation Cup in the Dutch city of Heerenveen. At that meet, it was all European countries she was up against. This time, the Asian nations, such as China and South Korea, will be out there.
Acorn said the Asian countries aren’t as physical as European skaters can be but the one thing she’ll have to watch for is the quickness.
“The South Koreans tend to stay out of it until the last couple of laps and then they pick up the pace and go on the outside,” she said. “That’s tough to defend against because you can’t block speed. The Netherlands was a good introduction to international competition and I’m hoping to grow from that experience and work on what I learned there.”
Before Lucerne, though, Acorn will have to contend with the Canadian Junior Short Track Championships in Sherbrooke, Que., at the end of this month. Acorn goes into the meet ranked no. 4 and is expected to be a contender for the title. The top three in the men’s and women’s divisions will get the chance to represent Canada at the World Junior Short Track Championships in Poland this coming March.
Acorn said she isn’t looking ahead to Lucerne because junior nationals is a bigger event for her.
“You can’t really compare the two events because junior nationals is a whole different beast altogether,” she said. “In Sherbrooke, I’ll be one of the dominant skaters and I’ll be fighting for a spot on the national team. Switzerland is all about learning for me. There’s two women from the World Cup team who will be going and I’m one of the younger ones learning from the elders, so to speak.”
Even though it’s a learning experience, Acorn said she’s still excited to have the chance to go.
“I don’t know too much about it but I really appreciate the opportunity to go and I hope I do well,” she said.