Long Blades get set for short-track provincials
When Chelsea Reith makes her last turn at the B.C. Short Track Championships this weekend, her career with the Kamloops Long Blades might flash before her eyes.
“For her, it’s kind of the last one,” said Sandi Vyse, the Long Blades’ head coach.
“After France, who knows where she’ll go.”
Reith, 17, will fly to Europe in August to begin a 10-month Rotary exchange.
The longtime Long Blade, upon return from France, will get ready for life on Vancouver Island, where she will study at the University of Victoria.
For 10 years, Reith has plied her craft with the Long Blades at McArthur Island Sports Centre.
She can recall her early days with the club, skating with Jessica Hewitt, who is now a member of the women’s national short-track team.
“She used to be my idol,” Reith said.
“I’d always try and skate with her and I remember the first time.
“It was morning practise, and I remember skating behind her and I was like, ‘I’m so close. This is the best day.’”
Reith might not know it, but she has occupied Hewitt’s role for an up-and-coming Long Blade, 12-year-old Dana Coulter.
“I always want to try and catch up to her,” Coulter said of Reith, who has raced at several national competitions and been a member of B.C.’s training team.
“She has really good technique and she goes a lot faster than me.”
Reith will attend UVic on a field-hockey scholarship, as long as she performs well in tryouts and cracks the Vikes’ roster.
The South Kamloops secondary student, under the guidance of head coach Kash Dhaliwal, excelled at the sport and came into favour with Victoria’s coaches.
Reith did not rule out a return to the Long Blades, but it’s impossible to know where her university path will lead.
She knows that — that’s why this weekend is so important.
“It’s kind of sad,” she said.
“I’ve been skating here for 10 years. It’s a big moment for me.”
The provincial championships will run on Saturday, March 3, and Sunday, March 4, at McArthur Island Sports Centre, with the action starting at 8:30 a.m. and wrapping up at about 4 p.m. on both days.
There will be 10 Kamloops Long Blades competing at provincials, Dominic Villeneuve, Leia Hoot, Rylan DeBeeld, Sylvie Lloyd, Dana Coulter, Holly Antifay, Maria Demishkevich, Chelsea Reith, Kristopher Pynten and Erin Kavaliunas.
Up for grabs in the 12- to 15-year-old boys’ and 11- to 14-year-old girls’ divisions are spots at the Canada West Short Track Championships in Winnipeg on March 24 and March 25.
The Coyote Cup, a competition for skaters not old enough to participate in provincials, will be held at McArthur on Sunday at about 2 p.m.