Vernon’s Laura Hall has become the first-ever member of the Vernon Vortex Speedskating Club to qualify for the Canada Winter Games. Hall will compete in Red Deer in long-track skating in February. (Vernon Vortex photo)

Vernon skater off to Canada Games

Laura Hall of Vernon Vortex qualifies in long- and short-track speed skating; will skate long-track

Laura Hall is going long rather than short.

The Vernon Vortex Speedskating Team member will become the first skater in the 26-year history of the club to represent Vernon at the Canada Games in 2019 in February.

Hall earned her spot on Team B.C. with results from the Canada Cup #1 and B.C. Canada Winter Games Long Track Team Trials in Fort St. John. In October, Hall qualified for the Games in short-track skating in October but has chosen to compete in long-track.

She started the Fort St. John competition off with a moderately successful 500-metre race, finishing 25th in the country but fifth in B.C., well within reach of the top-four required to qualify to represent the province at the Canada Games.

RELATED: Hall makes Team B.C. grade

The competition wrapped up with the 3,000m event and the 6,000m mass start event. In the 3,000m, Hall more than made up the lost time from her 500m event, finishing 11th in Canada but was the top B.C. skater. Her 3,000m result catapulted her into second place overall for the B.C. team selection.

In the mass start event, she took an early lead against much stronger and more experienced skaters, pushing the pace and finished in a strong seventh place overall.

“Her hard work and dedication to her craft is starting to show signs of paying off and with the continued support of her coaches and teammates she should be in great shape to set the standard for future Vernon skaters at the Canada Games level of competition,” said Vortex spokesperson Karen Benn.

Laura will be joined at the Canada Games by fellow Okanagan skater Jacob Rubuliak from Kelowna, another of B.C.’s long-distance specialists.

* Hall tuned up for the Trials by competing in a three-day international long track meet, as did Vortex teammate Nate Benn, while Daniel Hall competed in a one-day short-track event.

Daniel had a great meet, posting some great times, including consistent 9.4 second-lap times in his 500m race. Daniel ended the day second place overall for 13-year-olds.

Benn and Laura Hall skated against skaters from China, Australia, USA, and Canada. Benn skated three out of four personal best times. The biggest best was a four-second drop in his 1,500m time. A 10-lap mass start race last year had Benn being lapped out. Not this year. He finished in the middle of the pack.

Laura Hall had two out of four best times. Hall had a hard tight group. Her best drop was also four seconds in her 1,500m race. Probably the most entertaining race was Hall’s mass start 10-lap race. Laura went out hard and fast trying to take the race away from everyone. For a while, it seemed to work, but the hard skating team from China reeled her in. Hall finished strong but behind the red suits of the Chinese.

* At the recent Kelowna Cup, six of the Vortex’s younger skaters — Russell and Tova Dow, Zolie Ozero, Lauren Miller, and brothers Sam and Will McDicken — showed what they were made of.

Four-year-old Russell shattered his best times in all his races save one, where he fell but dug deep and finished with a smile. Sister Tova had a great meet, posting a couple best times as well. After a devastating fall where she had to bow out due to an injury, sister Dow came back for her final race and crushed it, clocking an 11-second improvement on her 100-metre time.

Ozero, in his second meet in as many weeks, showed that he is learning fast. He posted best times in all of his races, the best being his 200m, improving his time by almost 10 seconds.

Competitive skaters Lauren, Sam and Will were slated altogether for the meet. Older McDicken Sam had an amazing meet posting best times all around and coming 0.1 short of his two qualifying provincial times. Younger McDicken and Miller traded spots all afternoon, both putting up a couple of best times. The most improvement going in the 1,s200 meters. All three skaters getting well under the provincial times.

The Vortex team would like to express thanks to its sponsors, Sproing, Manulife, Mackenzie Financial, Interior Savings, and Tolko, all of whom contribute to making the development of young athletes possible.

For information on how to join this dynamic team, check the website at

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Nate Benn of the Vernon Vortex Speedskating Club begins a race at an international meet in Calgary. (Vernon Vortex photo)

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