A Mission teenager is currently competing among the country’s fastest speed skaters for a spot on Team Canada for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
Sam Green, 16, is the youngest skater by two years, and the only B.C. skater at the Canadian Short Track Speed Skating Championships and Olympic Trials in Montreal.
The competition runs until Sunday, Aug. 29, and determines who makes the Olympic team, the national team, and the junior-development (Next Gen) team.
“It’s fun skating with a bunch of big names,” Green said, adding that being the youngest relieves a lot of the pressure.
“I don’t have to be the top, I don’t have to worry about winning everything, I just get to enjoy it.”
Green is, in fact, competing at a level beyond his years. Only the top 20 skaters in the country qualify for the event and he currently ranks 11th with two races left to go.
The competition includes Olympic gold-medalist and world-record holder Charles Hamelin – 20 years his elder.
The skaters race three 500-metre, 1,000-metre, and 1,500-metre rounds on alternating days, scoring their best two distances.
Green managed to place fourth overall in the second round of the 500-metre race – the fourth fastest time in the whole competition – and breaking his own junior record.
“Nobody was expecting him to (win) this time round,” said his mother, Eden Donatelli Green. “He’s really young … And for him to make the A Final is out of this world.”
Eden and her husband, Julian Green, are both former Olympic speed skaters themselves.
Eden competed in the 1988 and 1992 games, winning silver and bronze medals in the short-track for Canada; while Julian competed at the 1988 games in long-track for Britain, and coached Canada’s long-track team during the 1992 games. They’d met each other on the racing circuit.
Green, who has been skating since he was three-years old, said filling their skates is a lot to think about sometimes, and he’s just trying to make his own way among a new generation of athletes.
He said reaching the highest level of competition “snuck up” on him.
“I was kind of close to that level before I was even aware that it even existed … I was just a kid enjoying the sport.”
He’s been living in Calgary the last two years, while doing school remotely through Mission’s Summit Learning Centre, and rooming with his sisters attending university.
His parents were his main coaches before moving a province over; he’s now under the tutelage of Dennis Miller and Christina Lazarescu, hitting the ice nine times a week.
“He went there to train and then he just got so fast that I couldn’t bring him home again,” Eden said.
She said Green broke his ankle completely in 2020, and called his comeback to qualify amid the pandemic “quite the accomplishment.”
“He’s in a position right now to make the Next Gen team, and potentially, the Junior World Team.”