We have attempted to answer a few of the more common questions. If there is anything you’d like to know, don’t hesitate to ask.
Do I have to compete in racing?
No. There are options for both competitive and non-competitive skaters. Most skaters take advantage of the competitive option, but we have some skaters who use skating for fitness & fun. There is a moderate difference in fees, which covers the distinct insurance coverage for competitions.
Do I need to have any skating experience?
No. Learning to skate is part of the program for Group 1 skaters. In fact, some people say long blade skates make it easier to learn the basics, as they are more stable. Skaters learn the fundamentals of skating, including turns, stops, skating backwards, and how to fall safely and get back up.
I already compete in another sport. Can I also try speed skating?
Speed skating is an excellent cross-training sport for hockey, competitive swimming, track & field, and cycling. You’ll find a number of our young athletes participate in different sports throughout the year and have diverse athletic experience.
The acceleration and agility learned in speed skating is useful for for hockey players. The strength, aerobic stamina and racing strategy of speed skating complements other sports very well.
Can I join at any time during the season?
Yes. We accept new skaters at any time during the skating season, however we are unable to pro-rate fees. We encourage everyone to register prior to the season, which runs September through March.
I don’t own long blade skates. Can I still learn to speed skate?
Yes. We have a large supply of long blade skates available for rental, which is included in your annual fees. These are specifically designed for speed and make a difference in your performance.
For tryouts, smaller children can also learn the techniques of speed skating in standard hockey style skates. We don’t recommend it for bigger kids, as these heavy blades can cause large grooves in the ice surface which become a hazard for other skaters. Unfortunately, traditional figure skates or ice-dancing skates (with toe-picks) can’t be used to learn speed skating.
Is speed skating dangerous?
No. Speed skating is not dangerous. It is an exciting and fast-paced sport, and all skaters wear protective equipment to prevent injury during normal activity. While accidents do occur, there is no intentional contact or aggressive behaviour allowed during racing.
What is the difference between short track and long track speed skating?
Short track speed skating is raced on a 111m (or 100m) oval track, and the distances are less than 3000m. All skaters compete within the same track, often in very close proximity, where positioning and strategy are as important as skill and speed.
Long track speed skating is raced on a 400m oval track, and the distance can be as long as 10,000m. Skaters have their own lane, so pure speed and skill are more important. Top skaters reach speeds exceeding 65km/h.
These are very general distinctions. There are many other technical and tactical differences to learn and enjoy. Canada has a strong reputation in both forms of speed skating, and our Ridge Meadows coaches have international competition experience in both.
Can I participate in both short track and long track speed skating?
Yes (and no). Some skaters in BC use their skills and equipment in both short track and long track racing. However, there is no facility in the Lower Mainland for long track training or racing. The Ridge Meadows Speed Skating Association can help you find opportunities to participate in long track activities if you desire, but you will have to travel, and the costs for any specific coaching support may be your responsibility.
Is speed skating expensive?
No (but it can be). The seasonal fees and costs for speed skating are consistent with other ice sports, and your investment in equipment can be quite low to start. Lots of people are willing to sell or lend equipment that they have outgrown, so affordable options can be found. As skaters progress and compete at higher levels, many choose to invest in higher quality, personalized equipment. We are a non-profit organization, and we make every effort to make speed skating affordable for families (such as providing long blade skates and racing skin suits).
Financial assistance is available for qualifying families. Click here for information and links to supporting agencies.