At first, Rosemary Karn found herself struggling to keep her balance on a pair of skates with long blades.
She had no idea what speed skating was at the time. She was just following her mom’s suggestion that she give the sport a try when she was only five years old.
It turned out to be a perfect fit.
Karn is 16 years old now and one of the seasoned members of the Humber Valley Speed Skating Club based in Corner Brook. The sport consumes a lot of her leisure time outside of her Level 1 studies at Corner Brook Regional High School.
“At the time I didn’t know what speed skating was so over the years I grew to love it,” Karn, daughter of Corner Brook’s Sharon and Eric Karn, said earlier this week.
Speed skating is a sport the whole family embraces, with her mom Sharon serving as one of the coaches and dedicated volunteers promoting the club and younger sibling Christina an active member of the club.
She hits the ice three times a week to hone her skills in her desire to be among the top skaters in the Atlantic Canada.
She loves pushing herself to beat her previous time and, like most competitive athletes, she loves going on road trips because she meets new people and gets to check out cool places she probably would never have went if it wasn’t for her involvement in speed skating.
It’s fun and fast, too, so that really helps a girl who’s willing to push herself to the limit and isn’t one to worry about crazy crashes.
“I do like the rush,” she said. “It’s fun to go as fast as you can and push your limits and see how well you can go before you fall down.”
She just loves being on her skates so she keeps moving ahead with hopes of earning a spot on Newfoundland and Labrador’s speed skating team for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.
Competing against the best in the sport is a challenge for skaters in the club. There are no other speed skating groups on the island so the only way Karn can participate in meaningful events is to travel to meets in Atlantic Canada.
Going away for competition is one thing. Being prepared to compete is another story.
Karn believes speed skaters in this neck of the woods also have to deal with the reality that there is very little ice-time available for rental. The club only had two ice-time slots per week until this season when the club was able to snatch another time slot on the weekend.
“That’s a big challenge because you don’t have a lot of time to practice everything you need to practice before competitions,” she said.
There are only 39 boys and girls registered with the club. A far cry from the numbers some of the biggest clubs in Atlantic Canada have to work with, but Karn takes the positive spin on that reality by believing she’s simply part of a special group of people.
“We have a lot of energy and we’re very spirited. We like what we do. We’re very passionate,” she said.
Karn will be among the Humber Valley speed skaters competing for gold this weekend at the Atlantic Cup in Charlottetown, P.E.I., where she will get a better sense of how her dryland training with trainer Chris Neal went over the summer.
Small in numbers, yes, but she’s quick to point out that members of the club have earned medals at the Atlantic Cup on a consistent basis despite the challenges they face as a small club on an island in the middle of nowhere.
“While it makes it tougher, we still do pack bit of a punch when we do go away,” she said.