Fort St. James speed skater Liam Reidlinger is recently back from Selkirk, Manitoba where he competed in the Canada West Youth Speed Skating championships. Reidlinger achieved some personal best times including a 2:41.47 in the 1500 metres — the fastest final time in his age group. He finished 10th of 16 skaters in the U16 class.
For Reidlinger it was a chance to get more experience and race with others at his skill level after completing the B.C. provincials. “I got a lot of experience, I got a lot of tips from other skaters and I got to see how many skaters there really are in British Columbia and how well we actually do. It was fun. I think the ice felt pretty different.”
Reidlinger has ambitions to compete in the Olympics one day and was inspired by short track speed skater Jamie Macdonald who was also raised in Fort St. James and who he has had the opportunity to meet. He said her success shows “the fact that such a small town and such a small club can produce such good skaters.”
He credits Fort St. James Falcons Speed Skating Club Coach Keith Gordon for his progress so far. This summer Reidlinger plans to focus on dry-land training so that next winter he can improve on technique and speed. He’s hoping to attend more meets and get to a higher level.
The meet in Manitoba was not held in the last two years because of the pandemic and is normally held each March. This was Reidlinger’s second chance to compete in the past three years.
Now 16, Reidlinger has been skating since he was seven years old. “I used to ski a lot on Murray Ridge and I think that that helped me excel in speed skating and last winter I started snowboarding,” Reidlinger said. “I’ll be in open class next year and I can skate against 20-year-olds. Right now I’m kind of limited in who I can skate with.”
The Fort St. James Falcons Speed Skating club do short and long track skating and are active from October to March and registration starts this fall.