Speed skater Connie Kapak had a tough season in the Oval High Performance Programs in Calgary.
The 17-year-old improved on her three-kilometre and 1,500-metre skates but needs to focus on technique, said head coach Brock Miron.
She’s making the transition from short to long-distance skating for next season, and prefers long distance.
“Even when you’ve a fraction of a second off, it’s great knowing hard work has paid off,” she said.
Focusing on long-distance skating has caused Kapak to shift her training.
She works out twice a day on ice, lifting weights and performing aerobic activities to stay in shape during the summer.
“This season, she will be training in the Alberta High Performance Program, which is a new program in Alberta,” said Miron.
The program focuses on an athlete’s individual talents, rather than solely improving their times.
“It’s an approach where the individual athlete’s needs are a top priority,” he said, adding that while some athletes succeed when focusing on the end result, it doesn’t meet Kapak’s specific needs.
“Now she’s getting a lot more attention to where she wants.”
Kapak has big goals in mind for her career, as she hopes to participate in the Olympics in 2022.
“Skating is what makes me happy. I have a love for my sport. If I take one day off it’s not as good of a day,” she said. “It clears my mind.”
Miron believes she can achieve her goal if she continues to put in the effort.
For Kapak, long-distance skating is less about racing the other individuals and more about improving yourself.
“It’s going to be very different this season,” she said.
Last year, she trained with around 25 teammates, but this year she will train with five other people her age.
Kapak balances the skating life with normal, 17-year-old activities.
Her boyfriend, Tyler, is also a speed skater. The pair have known each other since they were seven years old and have been together for almost three years.
After living in Vernon throughout her childhood, she joined Team Alberta as she had a better chance to reach her goals, she said.
As a Grade 12 student attending Bishop Carol High School, she balances school work and training easily due to the self-directed classes.
She continues to train throughout the summer, taking time off to visit her best friend from preschool, who lives in Vernon.
Her brothers live in Alberta, and her father, Pete, visits Calgary from Kamloops.