Blades of Skill

Blades of Skill
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Successful Speed Skater Strives to be the best in her sport

By Paula Last Courier Editor

Jessica Romaniuk, 24, is a fierce competitor.
Romaniuk is a full-time Centennial College hospitality student by day. In her spare time, she trains for the Special Olympics. So far, she’s got a nice collection of medals from track and bowling.

But it was her recent and rapid rise to success as a speed skater that caught our attention.

Romaniuk was eight when she put on her first pair of skates. Like most girls, she gave figure skating a try. But it didn’t stick.

“I didn’t take to the figure skating side of it,” Romaniuk said.
So how did she go from figure skating, to speed skating?
“The speed skating kind of happened by accident,” she said.

What she means is that when Romaniuk was 21, speed skating coach, Chris Maybill, saw her doing laps around the rink. Maybill ‘poached’ her from the figure skating program (led by his wife) for his own team.

So far, it’s worked out.

“We took her to a competition in Belleville and she placed well,” Maybill said.
“I get first place, next thing I know I’m going to provincials. I get first in that, which means I’m headed to nationals,” Romaniuk said.

At nationals, she landed two bronze medals. Not bad for your first time out.
Romaniuk said that she likes speed skating because “you’re against yourself.” But she’s also there to win.
“Once we’re at the line, it’s ‘Okay. We’re no long teammates, we’re enemies,’” she said.

But Maybill said that Romaniuk’s desire to win isn’t just for herself.

“She’s very determined. She gets upset because she really thinks that she has to do well for not only her family, but for myself and Duncan LeBlanc, her other speed skating coach,” Maybill said.

Maybill and Romaniuk know that she has the potential to compete at the top level.

When asked about her goals, it’s at the forefront.

“I haven’t actually gone to worlds yet,” she said.

Maybill has the same plans for Romaniuk.

“It’s actually one of my biggest goals (for Romaniuk to go to worlds). I want to see her do well,” Maybill said. “There have been speed skaters that have taken years and years, and finally made it to the world games. Jessica is … a little impatient and wants it now. Which I can understand, because she wants to do well.”
Romaniuk’s competitive spirit doesn’t get in the way of supporting her teammates.

“When we were in Thunder Bay, when she wasn’t racing she was cheering everybody on. There are some athletes who actually disappear when they’re not racing, and she was right beside the boards, cheering everybody on,” Maybill said.

By Josh Delgado CSEP-CPT
Fitness Services Representative AWC

Here are examples of fitness exercises that will help improve the performance of a competitive speed skater. Each exercise is focused on targeting muscle groups that are major movers while speed skating. At a competitive level, the athlete will be compounding each exercise to 5-6 sets. These exercises will a part of a greater regimen, but a great base to start for any speed skating athlete.

1) Barbell Squats
Standing with a barbell on athlete’s back, descend and ascend in a controlled manner by bending knees, ankles and hips simultaneously.

2) Barbell Split Squats
Standing in place with one foot forward and one foot back, bar on upper back, ascending and descending in a controlled manner by bending the knees and hips simultaneously.

3) Barbell Deadlifts
With a fairly straight torso, pick up a weighted barbell using the hips. Begin bent over from hips, complete by standing up completely straight.

4) Power Cleans
A more advanced lift. Use the hips to throw the bar up explosively from the ground to the front of the shoulder.

5) Hanging Leg Raises
Athlete will hold steady bars above the head and hang. From this position the athlete will raise the legs up and forward with straight or slightly bent legs.

6) Resisted Sprints
With a trainer or partner, use resistance bands to complete rounds of resisted sprint.

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