Making strides in senior

Glen Dawkins -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

In her first full season with the senior national long track speed skating team, Winnipeg's Shannon Rempel wanted to be like one of those successful contestants on Survivor. She wanted to cruise along "under the radar," biding her time waiting for her opportunity to come to win the big prize.

That was until she picked up her first career World Cup medal last Saturday with a silver in the 1,000 metres in Harbin, China. Now she won't be sneaking up on anyone.

"That's what I anticipated but I'll take this instead," said the 20-year-old 2003 world junior champion, speaking from the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

In her first two World Cups of the season, Rempel has six top-eight performances out of eight races including setting a personal best with a time of 38.32 seconds in the 500 metres two weeks ago in Nagano, Japan.

Early success

"I didn't really know what to expect heading into the first World Cups," said Rempel, who picked up her silver in only her fourth World Cup event over the past two seasons. "I'd been skating pretty well here (at the Olympic Oval) but you never really know how it's going to match up with the rest of the competitors so I'm pleased the way my first two competitions have gone."

Rempel's early success has thrust her into the limelight. But she's not bothered by all the extra attention.

"I thought with this being my first year in senior that it would be a learning year and sitting back a little bit," said Rempel. "My goal was to have some top-eight finishes so I didn't think there would be a lot of pressure this year. But now after winning a medal and being close to the podium in other races, I kind of like being in this position."

Next up for Rempel are the Canadian All Round Championships, Dec. 20-22 and Canadian Sprint Championships, Dec. 27-29 in Calgary. With her performance overseas, she's already pre-qualified for the next World Cups and the World Sprint Championships, Jan. 21-22 in Salt Lake City.

No pressure

The pressure will definitely be off her for the Canadian Championships. But not that that really matters much.

"I don't think I would have put a lot of pressure on myself before but there's less now," said Rempel. "I'll still go out and race as hard as I can because that will prepare me for the real races. I'll still put a good effort in those races."

As most of them train in Calgary, there is a real sense of camaraderie among the Canadian long track skaters that you don't always find on other teams. They all pull for each and support each other which makes it easier for a young skater just starting out.

"We all get along with each other and we enjoy spending time with each other," said Rempel. "We definitely support each other always. I think we have such a great group dynamic between the males and the females and everyone really roots for each other."


Videos

Photos