Penelope Brown, 9, and six-year-old sister, Beatrix, sit patiently as their mother cinches up their long-bladed skates in the lobby of The Q Centre.
On this day the young West Shore residents are taking part in a promotional photo shoot for the Esquimalt Speedskating Club, to which they belong. Asked what she enjoys most about the sport, Penelope’s eyes light up.
“I like going fast,” she says. “It feels like you’re flying.”
She and Beatrix are in their second year skating with the club – which is in its 49th year in Greater Victoria – although Penelope first strapped on figure skating blades at age 2.
She loves racing, observing, “You know what you can do (skill-wise), but you can do many levels of that.”
Beatrix quietly says she loves to go fast as well, then recites almost rote one of the things she’s learned so far: “You’ve got to bend your knees when you do a crossover or you’re going to fall.”
Although the regional club lists skaters from age 5 up to 66, president Ian Phillips of Langford says the sisters’ age group is one of the fastest growing. Part of the appeal, he says, is that coaches try to keep it fun for younger skaters. Besides training for starting technique, doing laps and relay practice, skaters play such games as asteroids, where pucks are thrown at skaters’ feet – kind of a dodge ball on ice – and the train game, with engine and caboose.
The girls say they’ve made lots of new friends in the club, something Phillips agrees is a big part of its recent growth spurt.
While it’s almost the halfway point of the season, the club is accepting new members for a reduced rate. The specialized skates are provided and curious people of any age are invited to come try it out for free. Just call Phillips at 250-474-1491 or email him at email@example.com for more information.
Heading toward the ice, the girls are left wide-eyed seeing the pair of comparative giants with whom they’ll be photographed: Victoria Grizzlies players Kevin Massy and Chris Harpur.
The good-natured young men, both of whom stand about six-foot-six on skates, are here to help promote this Saturday’s (Dec. 13) speedskating demo between periods of their team’s game against Powell River (7 p.m. start).
It’s yet another cool experience for the girls, who, like Massy and Harpur, are learning to become ambassadors for their sport and club.