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Ontario skaters bring blazing speeds to Newmarket ice

Newmarket club hosts provincial speed skating competition for first time since 2019; 2 club members heading to Canada Winter Games

Speed skaters from across the province raced on the Magna Centre ice this weekend for the first Newmarket-hosted competition in years.

The Newmarket Jets Speed Skating Club hosted more than 120 competitors for a weekend full of races, including the provincial elite circuit. Kids and teens alike raced around the rink for the Speed Skating Ontario-sanctioned event.

Club skater Haniya Jackson said it was a good opportunity to get some races in against unfamiliar competition. 

“I feel comfortable on this rink. A bunch of older skaters and higher level skaters came,” she said. “It’s nice. It’s a different chance of pace.” 

The typically annual event features both an inte-club meet for children and a provincewide elite circuit for those aged 13 and older. Skaters have come in from across the province, with some out-of-province skaters from locations like Michigan and Nova Scotia. The club has not held a meet for the past few years during the pandemic, with their last event hosted in 2019. 

“It’s awesome because we haven’t had in-person skating for a long time,” club community relations George Simpson said. “It’s nice to see the best skaters in the province coming here to this awesome facility for some in-person racing.” 


Newmarket skater Tim Beck awaits his race on the bench. Joseph Quigley/NewmarketToday

Newmarket counts some of its members among the best. Liao has made Team Ontario for the Canada Winter Games next month, which only has five skaters of each gender. Newmarket teammate Jackson will also be an alternate on the team. 

“It’s a great privilege, and I’m very thankful for this opportunity to represent Ontario at such a large event,” Liao said. “I’ve always wanted to go.” 

For Liao, the sport is a chance to take a break from the rest of life.

“When I’m skating, all I think about is skating and doing my best and also having fun with my teammates,” she said. “I don’t have to think about other things like schools or social stuff. It’s just an outlet for me.” 

Newmarket skater Yilna Liao chases the leader in a race at the Magna Centre. Joseph Quigley/NewmarketToday

Team head coach Paula McConvey said it is wonderful to have a couple of skaters going to the winter games.

“It really reiterates how hard they’ve trained, how competitive they are, how they’ve followed the program,” she said. “It’s coming together nicely for them. It’s exciting.”


Newmarket club president Todd Vernon rings a bell for the final lap during a race. Joseph Quigley/NewmarketToday

The Newmarket event comes midway through the season and is the last provincewide elite circuit meet before the provincial championships in March. Newmarket’s team of six elite-level skaters will be working towards that event next.

“It’s been going really, really well,” McConvey said of the season. “They’ve all gone back into it, and everybody’s training hard. It’s just kind of been revitalized again.”