Penticton’s Abigail McCluskey had her sights set on the world juniors and she has accomplished her goal.
McCluskey is among eight athletes chosen by Speed Skating Canada to compete in the International Skating Union World Junior Long Track Championships, March 11-13, in Changchun, China.
“I’m super excited,” said McCluskey during a phone interview from Calgary. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Making the team became a goal for McCluskey a few years ago while working with Kelowna coach Nancy Goplen after seeing how excited other athletes got when they were selected.
All except one skater was selected following their performances at the last Canadian Junior Long Track Championships, held Feb. 5-7 in Winnipeg.
McCluskey, a Pen High grad, was second in the women’s overall ranking in the Canadian Junior championship, and will also take part in the all round format of the competition in China.
At the Canadian Junior Long Track championships, McCluskey won a silver medal in each of the events, except in the mass start. She also won the gold medal in the women’s 3,000-metre.
McCluskey’s season started rough as she sustained a concussion and had a shoulder injury in the summer. She has also got moved to a new team (Elite Athlete Pathway Stage 3 at the Olympic Oval) has a new coach and that has worked out well. She has continued getting better, which started around November.
“She’s a very powerful girl,” said Goplen. “She listens, does the best she can. Being coachable is huge.”
McCluskey’s current coach, Crispin Parkinson, said she has had an amazing year. When it comes to competing in China, he believes she will do fine. Parkinson credited her success to McCluskey taking responsibility and looking after herself in terms of time management and nutrition.
“She doesn’t miss a training session,” said Parkinson. “A lot of her success comes from her natural strength and ability. She has made fairly large improvements over the year.”
Competitions at the ISU World Junior Long Track Championships will start Friday, March 11, with the 500-m and 1,500-m events, followed, Saturday, March 12, with the 1,000-m, women’s 3,000-m and men’s 5,000-m and team sprint events. The event will end Sunday, March 13, with the team pursuit and mass start events.
McCluskey will compete in the 500-m, 1,000-m, 1,500-m, 5,000-m and mass start.
More details are available at Speed Skating Canada’s web site at www.speedskating.ca.