There is a speedskating award being handed out this coming Monday and the North has some skin in the game.

Two pieces of skin, to be exact, giving the North at least a 40 per cent chance of winning the big prize.

It’s the Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award, which is being run through Speed Skating Canada. Each weekday has seen a club announced as a finalist for the award with the final club being revealed on Friday. The Iqaluit Speed Skating Club was unveiled as a finalist on Tuesday while the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club joined them on Thursday. They’re up against the Calgary Speed Skating Association, the Peninsula Speed Skating Club from Saanich, B.C., and the final finalist, which will be announced on Friday.

Each finalist is guaranteed $2,500 irregardless of the final result. The winner, though, will get $10,000.

In order to be considered, a club had to create a video submission as well as craft an outline of what they would do with the money if chosen as the winner.

Hayden Hickey comes out of a corner during speedskating action at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alt. Hickey has been a long-time member of the Iqaluit Speed Skating Club and if luck is on their side, the club could win itself $10,000 through the Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award.
Kelly Tarala/Canada Winter Games photo

When it comes to the folks in Iqaluit, the plan is to put the money toward the purchase of new crash mats, which line the boards and help limit injuries to skaters who wipe out during the course of a practice or race.

Hayley Roberts helped put the Iqaluit submission together and said she was excited when the club was chosen as a finalist.

“When we read that safety initiatives were eligible for Intact’s award, we jumped at the chance to improve the arena’s padding,” she said. “Speed skating is the fastest self-propelled sport which, in short-track, can lead to high-speed impacts with the boards when skaters fall.”

Helen Roos, president of the Nunavut Speed Skating Association, said getting new mats has been a long-standing goal of the club.

“Safety requirements are a big thing with Speed Skating Canada and the money will definitely help offset the cost of the new crash mats,” she said. “We rarely get recognition such as this and it’s great to have been recognized.”

Roos said a new set of mats cost $4,000 by themselves but it’s the shipping which eats into the budget.

“The mats come in on the sealift and anyone who knows about (shipping) knows it isn’t cheap,” she said.

When it comes to Yellowknife, its plan for the money is to purchase additional speedskates for the club’s Learn To Skate programs.

Johanna Tiemessen, the club’s communications co-ordinator, said the very youngest group and the adult program are the ones which will benefit from it.

“For our three-to-five-year-olds, they wear hockey skates when they first come onto the ice and we gradually work them into speedskates,” she said. “For the adults, they aren’t learning to skate but learning the techniques of speedskating.”

The issue with the latter is that larger sizes of skates aren’t always available, she added, plus some families may not have the means to purchase skates.

“A real good pair of skates can cost close to $1,000,” she said. “Families may not be able to buy them so we want to ensure we have skates available for people who need them. We also have a lot of older skates that we’re looking to retire.”

The submission videos are available online for everyone to see and the winner is expected to be announced on Monday afternoon.

Tiemessen said if Yellowknife can’t win it, she’s pulling for Iqaluit.

“We would be quite alright if a fellow Northern club won,” she said.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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