We hope you and your child enjoy your time with us. Speed skating is a lot of fun for skaters and their families, but like any new sport, it does involve some unfamiliar terminologies, equipment and experiences. It hasn’t been that long since we were in your position, watching our children go through their drills, getting ready for their first competitions, all the while wondering what a PB was and why board pads are such a big deal. We hope that this brochure will answer these questions and many more as you begin what we hope will be a long and enjoyable association with us.
The Hampton Speed Skating Club (HSSC) and Speed Skate New Brunswick (SSNB) websites are two extremely valuable resources to keep an eye on throughout the season. They contain valuable information about meets (including warmup and race times), skater development and other helpful tips. Take the time to look them over, particularly around competition time. Both are very user friendly and can answer a lot of questions this brochure may not cover.
PB’s: Personal Bests – This is what it’s all about! Speed skating is a competitive sport, with the emphasis always on bettering a skater’s individual time. Each race is timed and the skater’s goal is to try to better his/her time when they race. Each time this is accomplished, a new PB (personal best) is achieved.
Bullpen: The bullpen is where the skaters gather before a race at a competition. Typically racers are expected to be in the bullpen, equipment on and ready to go one or two races before they go on the ice. Names will be called in the order skaters go on the ice. In order for meets to run smoothly, racers must be ready to go when their names are called.
￼A skater’s first competition can be daunting for both skater and parent alike, but being prepared can go a long way to calming nerves and helping to ensure a successful meet for everyone. When you first arrive at a competition, be sure to find the team dressing room and let your coach know you have arrived. Also:
1. Be prepared: double and triple check your equipment bag before you leave home. Make sure your skater has all the equipment s/he needs to go on the ice: skin suit, skates, hard and soft guards, shin and knee pads, neck protection, goggles, helmet and helmet cover and cut proof gloves. For safety reasons, skaters will not be allowed on the ice without the proper equipment, so it is important that everything is there. Also, be sure your child’s blades are sharp and ready for competitive skating.
2. Proper nutrition: competitions take a lot of skaters so it is important to keep them fed and hydrated. Rinks do not always have food outlets, so it is wise to bring a packed lunch with drinks to dip into throughout the day.
3. Down time: in short, you need to be prepared for it. A typical competition will see skaters skating seven races over two days. It’s not a bad idea to have books or small portable games for entertainment between races.
Checking the HSSC and the NBSSC websites can really help prepare you for a competition. ‘Division Lists’ are posted two or three days before each competition along with a schedule of warm up and races. These will tell you roughly when your child goes on the ice and who s/he is competing against. Each skater will skate two races of three distances – a heat and a final. The seventh and final race will be their longest distance.
Care of Equipment
It is extremely important to take care of your equipment in order to get the most out of it.
Skates: speed skates are made differently than hockey or figure skates and therefor must be cared for differently. It is important to NEVER get your blades sharpened at a sports shop. Blades can be ruined if sharpened by someone who does not know how to do it properly. Inquire around the club to find out who sharpens blades and how much they charge. Have them checked before competition for sharpness.
Skaters should walk on their blades as little as possible, ALWAYS while wearing their hard guards. After a skater comes off the ice, blades should be dried off with a cloth and soft guards should be put on to avoid damage to the blades. When you get home, take them out of your sports bag, remove the soft guards to allow blades to dry out completely and put them out of harm’s way.
Skin Suits: Suits are made of nylon and lycra and should be washed on the gentle cycle and hung to dry indoors, out of direct sunlight.
Other: As with any other sport, it is a good idea to empty your child’s skating bag after each practice to let the equipment air out.
With the use of trained coaches, board pads and personal safety gear, we do everything we can to ensure our skaters’ safety while they are on the ice. However, even with these measures in place, accidents can still happen. Because of this, we ask that a parent or guardian be on site during the entire length of every practice.