Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

From no to No. 1 in six short years

City speedskater tops in Canada in a sport he didn't really want

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Six years ago, Sam Deckert's opinion of speedskating was that it was a pretty goofy sport.

That was understandable because his choice of sports prior to that were baseball and soccer; both done in much warmer weather than what Winnipeggers are normally used to at this time of the year.

That was around about the time his mother Carroll suggested he take up the long blades.

"My mom signed me up for it actually, and I didn't really want to do it at first," he recalled Sunday, "but I decided I'd skate for the season, and I ended up doing well, and so I decided to stick with it. It turned out to be really fun."

Kirk Wright's mom wasn't the one to get him into the sport. It was his uncle Brett Arnason, who himself is a pretty good master speedskater. Unlike Deckert, however, Wright had always wanted to give it a try.

"My uncle, got me sort of started in it, and then I decided to join the River Heights Speed Skating Club, and start skating full time," said Wright.

Following this weekend's Canadian Age Class long-track speedskating championships at the Susan Auch Oval, Deckert and Wright are both long-track 15- and 14-year-old boys champions respectively, and it's a good bet Carroll and Brett are proud of them both.

Deckert, who said he no longer plays summer sports, won the 300 metres this weekend in 26.54 seconds, was fourth in the 100 in 11.09, first in the 2,400 in 3:49.31 and first in the 500 in 43.29 for a samalog score of 3,543. He finished in front of fellow Manitoban Andrew Lawler with 2,810 points and Alberta's Cody Miller (2,381).

Wright shares the 14-year-old title with Jacob Graham of British Columbia. Both skaters registered a samalog score of 3,632 points. Wright won the 2,400 metres in 3:50.13 in front of Graham at 4:07.42, and the 500 in 43.71, ahead of Graham in 43.99.

Graham won the 300 in 26.22 and Wright was second in 26.25. Graham also won the 100 in 10.80 to Wright's 10.93 for second.

Wright was pleased with his performance, but said there was room for improvement.

"I wanted to have a better 100 metres," he said. "I slipped a bit, but I am still really happy to get a silver medal in that one.

"Then in the 500 metres I could have also done better. My timing was pretty good, but I went into the second corner a little tight, and usually you want to go in a little wider, just to kind of build up the speed more and give more room for your strides. It's not that it was a poor performance, it just didn't go quite as well as it could have."

Deckert, of the St. James Speed Skating Club, said he was surprised at how well he skated. "I was expecting to do well, "but not this well. I just kept thinking about being the best in Canada for 15-year-olds. The ice was pretty good, but I don't really like the wind that much. Overall, though, it was a pretty good weekend."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2011 C4

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