Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Heidinger loves training in Calgary

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IT's amazing what getting out of the frigid Manitoba winter weather can do to improve a person's outlook.

Take the River Heights Speed Skating Club's Shayla Heidinger, 18, for example. Heidinger is in her first year of training at the Calgary Olympic Oval, and doing this she feels has given her a good chance of cracking the Canadian junior team for the world championships Feb. 20-22 in Zakopane, Poland.

Also competing from Manitoba is Greta Wapples, also from the RHSSC.

Heidinger's specialty is the 500 and 1,000 metres. Wapples is strongest in the 1,500 and 3,000.

Heidinger, who finished fifth last year without the benefit of an indoor oval, missed making the team by one place. She intends to rectify the situation at the Richmond (B.C.) Olympic Oval Friday to Sunday at the Canadian junior championships.

"This is my first year of training in Calgary, and it has made huge difference," said the first-year University of Calgary student. "We get to skate 10 months of the year here as opposed to two back home."

Heidinger said that she has improved in just about everything, including her sprints and, most of all, her technique.

"Being indoors enables you to work a lot more on your skating technique," she said. "It is too cold outdoors so you can't spend as much time skating slow to work on your technique, but here you can."

Her top competition will come from Edmonton's Sarah Gregg, who is the daughter of former Winnipegger and Olympian (1976 and '80) Kathy (Vogt) Gregg and Véronique Huot of Saint-Hubert, Que. Both skaters represented Canada at the 2008 worlds in China.

Matt McLean of the St. James Speed Skating Club will also be in Richmond to compete in the second of a series of three Canada Cups.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 29, 2009 C4

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