Skate super fast in circles. Repeat. It’s a process which works wonders for Vernon speed skating phenom Connie Kapak.
It’s been a month since she pocketed four medals in the B.C. Winter Games in front of family and friends at the Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong.
The smiling Vernon teenager took her game up a notch and claimed five gold medals at the Canada West Short Track Speed Skating Championships last weekend in Winnipeg.
“I was probably more nervous than in the Winter Games,” said Kapak, a Grade 7 Harwod Elementary student. “As soon as you start the race, it’s fine. You can’t even hear the screaming of the fans. You look at video after and notice how loud it was.”
Kapak turned 13 in February and skated in the Girls 12 division due to rules based on how old a skater is come July 1, 2011. There were 13 girls in her class, including good friends and Team B.C. mates Madison Karpes of Abbotsford and Dallas Hawkes of Chilliwack.
Kapak, whose favourite event is the 1,500-metres, struck gold in the 200-m, where she earned a personal best,in 22.2 seconds. She shaved one-hundredth of a second off her previous best.
Kapak also won the 400 in 42.78, edging Karpes and Hawkes.
Kapak took the 1,500 in two minutes, 52.46 seconds and ruled the 30-lap 3,001-m, in 2:52.46.
“There is a new concept in the 3,000 distance where if you are lapped, you go to the middle and you are out,” said Connie’s dad, Pete. “She probably could have set a new record in that event as she lapped 11 skaters, then followed another B.C. skater (Karpes) the final three laps, as to allow her to finish the race and win a (silver) medal. That was classy. I was very proud of her for that.”
Connie went into the short track championships bent on going all out.
“I pushed myself this weekend. I sprinted the first three laps and right through the final 13 in the 1,500. I was texting my coach (Nancy Goplen) and asking her if I should do that. She knows me better than the coaches there and she told me I had the endurance to go all out.”
Goplen, who has coached Kapak the last seven years, was at nationals in Richmond with the Team B.C. senior skaters.
Kapak, who will skate once a week through the summer, was the anchor as B.C. cruised to gold in the 3,001-m relay.
Connie and her friends celebrated their medals at a Boston Pizza in Winnipeg. Her expenses were covered through a fundraiser at the Vernon Boston Pizza, organized by businessmen Akbal Mund and Jim McEwan.