As a group of young skaters fly past, Langley Blades Speed Skating Club head coach Eden Green raises her voice to be heard over the sound of blades digging into the ice.
“It’s kind of a cool sport,” she says.
“Boys and girls train and compete (together). The kids are really a community.”
The Langley Blades Speed Skating Club is a not-for-profit organization established in 1996 in Aldergrove by Green’s father, George Donatelli. After a few years as the Aldergrove Blades, the club moved to Langley.
Green is a Canadian Olympic medalist and 10-time championship medalist in the sport.
She started skating in Mission at 13 months, switching from figure skating to speed skating at the age of four, often competing with children two or three years older.
As Eden Donatelli, she went on to become the youngest-ever athlete to make the Canadian Senior National Team at 15.
At the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, she took the silver medal in the 500 metres, and bronze in the 3,000 metre relay.
She has recorded a long list of accomplishments that includes Canadian Junior Olympic champion and record holder, three-time North American champion, North American record holder and world record holder in the 500 metres.
She has been inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
After retiring from skating, she married English speed skater and coach Julian Green.
She still skates, just for fun.
“I’m on the ice probably two or three hours a day, every day of the week, just about,” Green says.
She lives in Mission but coaches in Maple Ridge and Langley.
“For me it’s really fun, because I get to teach siblings and cousins and friends and family all the time,” she says.
“(To) kind of share that journey that they have.”
For some of the kids, that journey could be leading to the B.C. Games.
“It’s their very first big competition like that, where they go away from home and they have a multi-sport, multi-day competition, so that’s very exciting.”
Blades member Ben Tyler, a competitor in the 12-to-13 Division 3 who finished second overall out of 15 skaters during a recent meet, grins as he explains the appeal.
“I really like the thrill that you get when you go fast and you get a really good time,” says Tyler.
Twins Scott and Emily Coons both made the journey to speed skating through other sports.
Like Green, Emily is a former figure figure skater who made the switch instantly after she tried it for the first time.
“I was hooked from day one,” she says.
“I did my first cross-over on my second practice and knew from then that I wanted to go further.”
She hopes to compete at the Olympics level and eventually coach.
Sibling Scott started by playing hockey.
“At the end of practice, I’d just skate around on laps, faster and faster because I like the speed, not hockey,” he says.
“I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Competing in Division 1, ages 12-14 years, Scott finished first out of 19 skaters during an intrasquad speedskating meet at Langley Sportsplex in October.
He will be at the BC Winter Games as he came in first at a qualifying meet in Port Coquitlam. Emily is trying to get on the team at other meets.
The Blades offer speed skating lessons from September to March for learn to skate, beginner to advanced, child to adult, leisure to competitive, and Special Olympics.
Members can train as regional and provincial stream skaters under the Skate for Life program (S4L).
Regional skaters can choose to compete in events such as minimeets, BC Interclub Meets and FUNales.
Provincial skaters can choose to compete in events such as BC Interclub meets, BC Winter Games, BC Provincial Championships and the Canada West Short Track Championships.
The club is looking for new members.
It offers a “Come Try” event for novice skaters who want to experience the sport and have their ability assessed.
The skates take place during regular season training sessions from September to March on Wednesday and Friday afternoons.
For more information, visit www.langleybladesspeedskating.com which has an online entry form.