Teen speedskater’s dedication paying off

Local speedskater to represent Canada at world junior championship


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River Heights

West End

Teen speedskater Sofia Bieber laced up her skates and pulled on her toque inside the Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre, a building named after a Winnipeg speedskating icon with six Olympic medals to her name.

On Jan. 6, Bieber etched her name beside Klassen’s, at least in junior competition, when she was crowned the female Canadian junior long track champion at the 2023 Canadian junior championship in Quebec City — a title previously won by Klassen.

“It’s amazing,” Bieber, a River Heights resident, said. “I really look up to Cindy Klassen and the success and hard work she’s put into the sport. It’s really great to have achieved something that she’s achieved at this level and just to be talked about in the same sentence as her and her achievements.”

Other notable junior championship winners include Olympians Shannon Rempel, Britanny Shussler, and Clandeboye, Man.’s Alexa Scott.

Last year, at 16 years old, the youngest allowed in the age 16 to 19 junior championship, Bieber was knocking on the door with a second-place finish.

After becoming Canada’s junior long track champion, Bieber will represent Canada alongside four others on the national junior long track team at the 2023 ISU junior speed skating championships, an international competition, in Inzell, Germany from Feb. 10 to 12.

“I’m very excited to compete there and get some international experience,” Bieber said.

The tournament will mark the first time the speedskater will represent Canada on the world stage.

Bieber chalks her success up to a few simple things.

“It’s the speed. I love the sport because I like to go fast, and I’m not afraid to go fast. I’m also not afraid to push myself, and I enjoy pushing myself. I want to be the best. That motivates me. I want to be the best at my sport,” she said.

Alex Moritz, coach of the Manitoba provincial team, said Bieber’s commitment to her sport is second to none.

“The dedication and paying attention to all the little details between the lines. I could throw anybody onto a weekly schedule and they could show up and do all the stuff and whatever, but it’s all the stuff that happens in between the programs that makes the differences — going to bed at the right time, waking up at the right time, eating the right thing before and after training. It’s all the little things that make a difference.”

Moritz said he’s followed Bieber’s skating since she was about 13, and knew, even at that age, that “she was going to be a cut above the rest.”

He went so far as to say she likely owns world records for times by a 13-year-old, but those records aren’t kept.

With Bieber marking her name beside other Canadian junior champions who went on to win gold, silver, and bronze medals at world championships and Olympics, Moritz said the young athlete is well on her way to doing the same.

“I’d have to say that as a 17-year-old, the way she conducts herself, you’d think that she’s an Olympian. She’s so pro and elite in her day-to-day, and the accountability she takes on in regard to herself is just remarkable for a 17-year-old. You’d expect her to be a senior athlete that’s been to multiple Olympics,” Moritz said.

Bieber made sure to acknowledge her support system, including her parents “who drove me to every practice before I got my driver’s license,” and her coaches and teammates “who push me every practice,” and even Winnipeg’s unsung winter sports heroes, the people who maintain the ice she skates on.

“I wouldn’t be able to achieve what I’ve achieved without any of that. Really.”

To follow Bieber and team Canada at the international tournament and to find a link to a live stream of the event, visit speedskating.ca/mec-events/2022-23-isu-junior-speed-skating-championships

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community Journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at cody.sellar@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7206.

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