Two young speed skaters will put friendships to one side as they prepare to race off for a spot at next year’s Winter Youth Olympic Games (WYOG) taking place in Lillehammer from 12 – 21 February.
Teenagers Julia Moore and Stephanie Fabian are both eligible to compete at the Games but with just one Australian spot on offer, the girls will need to race off for the privilege.
“It’s a bit scary – racing off against each other,” Fabian said.
“We are friends out of skating, so to go up against each other is going to be hard. We have raced each other in the past though - we are familiar with each other. It will be an interesting experience. I think we will still be friends after the finish line!”
“It’s pretty daunting,” Moore added. “We train together and do all of our sessions together. But once the starter gun goes it is all on. Before the race everyone is friendly but then once the race starts it is serious. It is good to be able to click like that.”
Moore is no stranger to the ice rink having started out as a figure skater when she was seven years old.
“While I was figure skating I tried speed skating and I liked going fast,” Moore said of her switch. “So I started speed skating when I was eight or nine and have been doing it ever since.”
Fabian on the other hand was born into the sport.
Her father George competed at three consecutive World Championships in 1981, 82 and 83 having previously been national pairs figure skating champions with his sister Eva.
“Speed skating runs in my family”, Fabian said. “My dad used to skate and was a champion. So I’ve been on the ice since I was a little girl but I’ve only been training properly for about three years now.”
Fabian has inherited her father’s competitive spirit and is setting herself targets to ultimately reach her goal of an Olympic Winter Games.
“My goal is to make the national team and train with the national coach and expand my skating from there,” the 14-year-old said. “And then move on to the World Cup and the bigger picture is the big Olympics. I think that is every athlete’s goal.”
Both girls see the value in the Youth Olympic experience as they look to progress their skating from domestic to international competition.
“I think it is so important to have something like the YOG that is a little less serious until you move into something that is so serious like the World Cup,” Moore said.
“It is an event that has the support before it is every man for themselves like at a World Cup.”
“I take it one year at a time,” Moore said of her skating plans. “It can be daunting to set too big goals so I just take it one goal at a time. But international competition would be amazing, so that’s what I am aiming for.”
Both Moore and Fabian are part of the Olympic Southern Flyers squad in Melbourne. They have a couple of months more to train before their Youth Olympic fate is decided with the trials for the WYOG position will take place on December 22 and 23 at the O’Brien Group Arena in Melbourne.