Islanders speedskaters finish 2015 on high note

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Prince Edward Island short track speedskaters picked up podium finishes, new provincial records and new personal-best times recently in their final races of the 2015 competitive campaign.

Sixteen members of the Island team were at the Charles Gorman memorial speedskating championships in Saint John, N.B, while two of P.E.I.'s top speed skaters were in Trois Rivieres at a Quebec provincial circuit meet.

Charlottetown siblings Andrew and Peter McQuaid, 2015 Canada Games veterans, had some of their best performances of 2015 against a deep field in Quebec.

Peter placed fifth in group 2, while Andrew grabbed ninth. Peter posted new personal best times in his 500- and 1,000-metre events, coming within a quarter second of eclipsing Scott Beamish's 2009 P.E.I. record for junior men in the 1,000 metres.

Andrew notched a pair of seasonal bests, mere hundredths of a second from his lifetime personal-best times.

In Saint John, the P.E.I. contingent grabbed five medals, led by golds from Jenna Larter (division 4) and Liam Chatfield (division 5). 

Larter, of Cornwall, won her sprint events en route to her division title and her second gold medal in as many outings this season.

Chatfield took top spot in three of his four events to bring home the gold medal, the first of the season for the Charlottetown native.

P.E.I. coach Kyler van der Gaag said the coaches are encouraged by what they saw in 2015. 

"We're seeing many of our skaters make real gains with their technique this season. They've been investing the time to refine little things and the dividends are starting to be seen," said van der Gaag. "2016 is definitely shaping up to be an exciting year for our team."  

Also winning medals for P.E.I. in Saint John were Carter Bruce (silver, division 4), Andrew Binns (bronze, division 2) and Kristen Binns (bronze, division 3).

Andrew shaved time from his own provincial record for 12 year-old boys in the 200 metres for his third straight podium finish.

Bruce also made his third successive podium appearance, with personal bests in all three of his timed distances. Kristen earned her second medal of the season after a new personal best in the 400 metres.

Rob Binns, who was P.E.I.'s lone division 1 representative in Saint John, smashed a pair of his own provincial masters records in the 1,000- and 1,500-metre distances.

Saint John club members Will Oliver and Simone Hebert claimed the top overall titles for male and female skaters at the meet, which featured 124 skaters from nine Maritime clubs.

Eight members of the P.E.I. team in Saint John are among Island hopefuls vying for a chance to represent the Island at the Canada East short track championships March 26 and 27 in Charlottetown.

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Saint John, Charlottetown Quebec Trois Rivieres Cornwall Canada East

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