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Hundreds of speed skaters compete

Posted: February 12, 2012 10:01 p.m.
Updated: February 12, 2012 10:01 p.m.

Some live life in the fast lane, others see their fast lane life on ice.

On Sunday, more than 200 speed skaters turned up at the Ice Station Valencia for the California State Speed Skating Championships.

Whether they were 7 years old or 70, they squeezed into their skin tight body suits, strapped on those characteristic skates with the flat ruler-length blades and went as fast as they possibly could on ice.

“We started in 2003 and now we have 30 members,” said Ron Halcrow, founder and president of the Santa Clarita Speed Skating Club, as he sat down rinkside after having competed in the “Over 60” race.

Most of the speed skaters in the local club are between 8 and 14 years old.

Then there’s the gray-haired members, like Halcrow, who have been skating all their life.

“I just love it,” he said.

Two of his club members are sisters rocketing their way to acclaim.

Sarah and Jacqueline Chen, 16 and 14 respectively, are becoming faster and faster on the ice, Halcrow said.

The sisters secured first and fourth place at a three-day speed skating competition in Woodbridge, Va., last month.
Sarah Chen was crowned the girls 2012 U.S. Junior Short Track Champion last month, having scored the fastest overall time.

Both sisters made the 2012 Short Track Junior World Championship Team.

While the older sister is off training for a world speed skating competition in Australia following last month’s win, her younger sister joined scores of other speed skaters at the local rink on Smyth Drive on Sunday.

“This is a big competition,” Halcrow said. “Only the skaters who are pretty good come out.”

The local speed skating club hosted Sunday’s competition with the Demorra Speed Skating, based in Lakewood.

Passion on ice

Eleven-year-old skater Aiden Williams, sidelined with an injury Friday after a tumble on the ice, had to stand on crutches and watch his friends behind the rink glass as they streaked by him.

“I’ve sprained my ankle a couple of times and within a couple of minutes I was fine again,” he said. “So, when I fell, I thought hopefully, it would be the same thing — it wasn’t.”

His mother, Jana Williams, volunteered at Sunday’s meet and said she was, of course, disappointed her son couldn’t compete.

“He’s got a great attitude,” she said with a smile, pointing to other young skaters just as passionate who were tearing up the rink with skate cut ice shavings.

“See that girl? She used to be figure skater,” Williams said. “Now she does this. She loves it.”

Sunday’s competitors, put into age groups, skated four races, at the end of which their total points were tallied and a winner chosen.

Wilma Boomstra, Demorra Speed Skating coach and director of coaching for the Southern California Speed Skating Association, said many of Sunday’s young skaters are on the right track for the next Winter Olympics in 2014.

Born in the Netherlands where speed skating reigns supreme, Boomstra grew up racing and winning European speed skating championships. 

“It’s all about development at this stage,” she said, looking out on the kids on the local rink Sunday. “I’m trying to get them on world junior teams and trying to get them qualified for senior world cup competitions.”


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