Santa Claus came early recently to Island speedskater Scott Beamish.
His present? A fighting chance to represent Canada internationally.
Beamish, 20, qualified in mid-December for the Canadian Open short track championships which go Jan. 18 to 20 in Montreal.
And should he do well in his events (500, 1,000, 1,500 and 3,000 metres each skated four times) in Montreal, the Warren Grove native could find himself on Team Canada’s roster for the world short track championships in March in Hungary.
The top six finishers are selected, something Beamish admitted is a difficult hurdle.
“That’s going to be quite the goal to set. (For me) high teens this year, hopefully,” said Beamish in a recent interview.
Still, Beamish is progressing in the sport he began seven years ago after watching another Island skater, Jenna Gallant, make a mark nationally.
Beamish, a former hockey player, now lives in Calgary, where he trains full-time and attends the University of Calgary.
It’s a busy schedule, skating five hours a day, six days a week and working on a physics degree, but it’s paid off in Beamish’s mind following a seventh-place finish at the qualifier after going into the meet ranked 24th in Canada.
“One of my best results to date . . . pretty happy. I can't complain at all,” he said.
Beamish has good wheels (he set three P.E.I. records and finished fourth overall at a meet in Ohio last year), and loves the close-quarter, strategic pong-pong sport that is short track speedskating.
“Speedskating is a lot of mental (preparation). You look to set up passes. Look at who’s in your lane. (You have to determine) when to pass, how long to wait to pass. All set up by timing. It’s a huge part of the sport,” said Beamish, who was a member of the P.E.I. squad at the 2011 Canada Winter Games. “It’s the thrill of the race. And everyone in the sport is always friendly.”