FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich – This is the Wolverine Sports Club, and these are the speed skaters in the video player above. They certainly know their way around a short track.
It was Wednesday practice at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena.
“Small sport in Detroit,” said Courtney L’Arrivee, Head Coach of the Wolverines Sports Club. “Everybody is on the ice at the same time, so we cater to all ages and all abilities.”
The Wolverine Sports Club is the only club for speed skating in Metro Detroit, with some members attending for fun, recreation, and fitness. While others are very competitive and are attend to train for states and nationals.
L’Arrivee grew up in Ottawa speed skating competitively. She came to Metro Detroit for her job. In her free time, she’s the head coach here.
She is the perfect person to educate us on the sport, starting with the blades.
“Depends on height, weight, ability,” L’Arrivee said. “They go up to 18-inch blades.”
There are two disciplines, short track, and long track.
“Short track is always done on a hockey-sized rink, on a 111-meter track,” L’Arrivee said. “Long track is done on a 400-meter track, like a long-running track.”
Short track is a race against each other. Long track is a race against the clock. The power L’Arrivee says comes from the skater’s push.
“Since the blades are flat, unlike figure or hockey skates, you should get all your power from pushing directly from the side,” L’Arrivee said. “That’s why we get low, to get maximum power. When you’re done, bring it to behind and get ready for the push. “It’s like doing one-legged weighted squats as your cardio.”
As we sit down to watch the Olympic competition, L’Arrivee gives us some faces and names to look for.
“Kristin Santos is definitely the short track skater to watch this year,” L’Arrivee said. She medaled at short track world this year. 1,000, 15,000, and on the long trackside. “We also have a woman kicking butt. Her name is Erin Jackson. She came home with a medal in the 500 meters for every single world cup this year. And Joey Mantea has medaled and Pivoratto for the locals.”
If watching the Olympics inspires you to go out and try it, the Wolverine Sports Club is ready for you.
“We would definitely like to take on more skaters,” L’Arrivee said.