Race day: Canada East Short Track Championships set for Eastlink Centre

Jason Malloy
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Kristen Binns is the veteran of Team P.E.I. at this weekend's Canada East Short Track speed skating championships.

The 15-year-old Stratford native has competed in Halifax, Riviere de Loup, Que., and Fredericton, N.B., the past three years.

"In each of them I had good personal bests and I skated well," Binns said after practice this week. "I didn't have super high finishes but I skated well for me and I was happy at the end of each of them."

The competition will bring more than 120 of the best 11- to 15-year-old skaters from Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and Nunavut to the Eastlink Centre for races today and Sunday.

"Canada East is always my favourite competition because normally it's where I set my best times because there's new people to race against," Binns said.

This will be her final Canada East competition and the first one on home ice.

"It's exciting," she said. "It's definitely an advantage because I can sleep in my own bed and I know the ice more than the (skaters from) other provinces that are coming here."

Binns was eight-years-old when she started speed skating after watching her younger brother Andrew participating.

"I used to just sit up there and do my homework," she said pointing to the Eastlink Centre stands, "and then I kind of had enough of it and I decided to do it myself."

Thomas McQuaid's introduction to the sport came nine years ago via TV.

"I saw the professionals skating and how much they leaned into the corners and put their hands on the ice and (were) going so fast and I wanted to do that," said the 14-year-old Charlottetown native.

He said it is helpful to have two older brothers, Andrew and Peter, also participate in the sport.

"They give me a lot of tips after I skate," he said.

This is McQuaid's second trip to the Canada East competition. He is looking to improve his 400-metre time this weekend while also looking meeting new people. He said the camaraderie in the speed skating community separates it from other sports.

"In most sports you're only with your own team, but with speed skating you're friends with everyone even if you compete against them."

Binns knows that from experience.

Some years Prince Edward Island hasn't had enough to field a full relay team at the Canada East competition. One year, an Ontario girl skated with Binns and the Island squad.

Those types of friendships will be rekindled this weekend.

"It's awesome," Binns said. "Whenever you go away you get to see people that you only see when you go to speed skating meets and it's always a lot of fun."

Did you know?

Racing at the Canada East Short Track speed skating championships begins today and Sunday at 8:05 a.m. Action continues until the medal ceremonies Saturday at 5:40 p.m. and Sunday at 5:10 p.m.

Admission to the event is free.

"I think the host committee has done a great job so it will be a great atmosphere for our skaters," P.E.I. head coach Sarah Taylor said.



Organizations: Canada East Short Track, Eastlink Centre

Geographic location: Canada East, Ontario, Stratford Halifax Fredericton Quebec Atlantic Canada Nunavut Charlottetown Prince Edward Island

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