Connie Kapak is packing up her life and heading east to follow her passion of speed skating.
Accompanied by her father Pete, the Kapaks move to Calgary on Monday.
“We decided at the beginning of last season that her level would not work in this area. We had to get her to a higher level of competition,” said Pete.
Connie, 15, grew up in Vernon, attended VSS and trained with the Vernon Speed Skating Club. One thing she’ll treasure is the life-long friendships she made.
“I have the best friends anyone can ask for and I’m going to miss them a lot,” said Connie. “The other day one of them brought a framed picture of all of us with some memories written down the side.”
Connie started skating about the same time she learned how to walk.
“I just want to thank Peter Blokker for allowing a three-year-old into the club (Vernon Speed Skating club) and Nancy Goplen for letting us train in Kelowna the past three years,” said Pete, who is 67 and has three boys older than Connie, all with their own families.
Connie stands five-foot-five and has spent the summer training at Kal Fitness and the gym at the Vernon Rec Centre. She will now attend Sir Winston Churchill and train at the Olympic Oval located on the University of Calgary campus.
The oval will provide her a greater training facility and more competitions and time trial events.
“If I had to choose, I would say I like short-track speed skating better. But I like to train for long-track and compete in it as well,” said Connie.
Connie owns seven provincial short-track titles, four provincial long-track titles and three Western Canadian championships. She was named North Okanagan Athlete of the year in 2012.
Growing up, she was in awe of the dominating performances by Canadian Olympians Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes. The Olympics might be a goal of hers down the road, but she is focusing one year at a time for now.
“It would be great to go to the Olympics one day, but I just want to compete well over the next few years and go to university and see how that goes,” said Connie.
A fund-raiser was held at Monashee’s Bar & Grill on Wednesday and raised $1,127 from sales and donations towards Connie’s training.