The Edmonton Speed Skating Association (ESSA) is the only speed skating club in Alberta's capital region. Under the guidance of our parent organizations, Speed Skating Canada and the Alberta Amateur Speed Skating Association, we provide both short track and long track speed skating opportunities to members of all ages.
Why Choose Speed Skating?
Speed skating provides unparalleled flexibility among ice based sports. Unlike team sports, or sports where you pay a coach directly for each session, speed skating allows families to attend training when it works for them. If you cannot make a particular training session, that's not a problem! Take that winter vacation, we'll be here when you get back.
A fixed training schedule means you know during registration when your training times will be. Eliminate the guesswork when trying to plan other activities for your family.
Select the level of competition that makes sense for you and your family. Whether you like to travel the province, race locally, or not at all, you are in charge of your competition schedule. Choose which events make sense for your family.
Keep your family together. Racing events have multiple ability and age categories, so your 7 year old, 10 year old, and 13 year old can all race at the same event. Training times are also frequently adjacent meaning one trip to the rink or oval for everyone.
Get outside and enjoy winter. Yes, we spend our fair share of time inside the arena, but from December through February we frequently train outdoors at Canada's most scenic skating oval in Victoria Park.
Experience a community like no other. Almost every ESSA family joined without prior experience with speed skating. We know what it is like to be new, and everyone is willing to help out and answer questions. Spend a little time with us and you will soon understand why so many families stay with this wonderful sport.
Short Track Training Locations
Long Track Training Location
Speed skating has a long and distinguished history in Edmonton. Prior to 1948, speed skating was held by several community clubs at hockey rinks with races at local winter carnivals. Speed skating finals were held at the Arena (Edmonton Gardens) or at the 119th Street rink north of Jasper Avenue (covered and with natural ice).
In 1947, as a result of local athletes Doreen Ryan (Junior) and Don Wynn (Intermediate) winning Canadian Championships in Sudbury, Ontario, the City of Edmonton indicated they would provide a speed skating track with the proviso that all community clubs would amalgamate into one Edmonton Speed Skating Association.
In 1948 a 200 meter track was prepared in Rossdale’s Diamond Park. ESSA formed in 1949. This was soon changed to a 268 meter track, and a warm-up building was built in conjunction with the adjacent hockey rink. In 1959 the Canadian Olympic Trials were held on this track.
Edmontonian Doreen Ryan made the 1960 Olympic Team and saw her first 400m track in Squaw Valley. This was the first Olympiad that included women’s speed skating events. Ms. Ryan skated again for Canada in the 1964 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.
The need for a full 400m oval instigated a move to the old soccer pitch at Clarke Stadium (Commonwealth Stadium). A warm-up facility was provided. Circa 1968, Edmonton’s Paul Enoch set the 5000m Canadian Record with a time of 7:59 on this track. The record lasted 12 years. In 1969, after years of dealing with issues growing grass on the soccer field, the track was moved to Coronation Park.
Murray Gardiner was the head coach of ESSA from 1962 to 1974. He was an early promoter of Olympic style speed skating in Canada, and his leadership produced many Canadian champions and Olympians. Canadian Champions included Bob Hodges, Frank Ludke, Paul Enoch, Andrew Barron, Tom Overend, Cam Tipping and Verna Overend. Olympians included Bob Hodges, Frank Ludke, Paul Enock, Andrew Barron and Tom Overend. Gardiner was also coach of the 1972 Canadian Olympic Speed Skating Team.
From 1969 to 1975 the club was practicing at Coronation Park, where the running track was flooded by the City. However, the corners did not have the required radius of 25 meters and the awkward track could not be used for competition. As such, Hawrelak Park was used in 1974 as the site for the Alberta Championships.
In 1974, national team member Cam Tipping, found the Coronation Park track inadequate for his training requirements. Jack Tipping and Bud Hall of the ESSA, in cooperation with the City of Edmonton, suggested Victoria Park as a possible site for a competition track. In the fall of 1975, the small skating rink in Victoria Park was enlarged by the City to a 333m speed skating oval. In December 1975, the Canadian National Team Trials were held at Victoria Park, with participation of Canadian Champions Cam Tipping (from ESSA) and Craig Webster. Several Alberta Championships were held between 1975 and 1985, the largest being the Open Alberta Championships of January 31st and February 1st, 1981, where future Olympic champion Catriona Lemay-Doan set 2 Saskatchewan records as a 10-year-old. However, larger competitions were impossible to hold due to a lack of dressing rooms and officials space.
In 1985, the club was gearing up for the 1988 Olympics with several talented young hopefuls (such as Geoff Williams and Colin Davidson) and it was felt that the 333m oval was inadequate for training for such an event. A Community Recreation Grant was obtained from Edmonton Parks and Recreation, and the oval was enlarged to a 400m Olympic size track. As a result, three ESSA club members were fore-runners during the 1988 Olympics, and ESSA member Arty Lancaster represented Canada at the 1990 Junior World Championships as Canadian Champion. Several Alberta Team Trials were held in Edmonton and the times of the 1992 trials stood as track records for over 10 years.
With facilities unchanged since 1975, the club was able to secure new trailers in 1999 to improve the quality of dressing rooms at Victoria Park, however the site was still limited by modern standards and unable to host significant events.
In 2015, the City of Edmonton opened the Victoria Park Pavilion. This permanent building provides adequate space for all users of the oval. ESSA leaders Jules Chabot and Jim Kapeluck were instrumental in ensuring the Pavilion’s construction. ESSA members provided significant financial contributions, and ESSA now maintains a members only area within the pavilion.
The Victoria Park Oval is the most scenic outdoor speed skating track in Canada and is protected from inclement weather by its location in the North Saskatchewan river valley.
Willem Langenburg was ESSA’s head coach from 1978 until 1992, and Alberta’s Provincial coach from 1980 until 1985 and helped two skaters become Canadian Champion. Willem continues to skate and participate with ESSA.
Kathy Gregg was the long time program director for ESSA. Kathy skated in the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, competing in the 500 and the 1500m and in the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid, skating the 80m, 500m, 1000m, and 1500m events. Kathy indicated that the 1980 Opening Ceremonies in Lake Placid was especially memorable as, it was just after Canadian Ken Taylor had just gotten the American hostages out of Iran.
Jamie Gregg represented Canada at the Olympics in 2010 in the 500m event (long track). Gregg was ranked #10 overall in the 500m during the 2009-2010 season.
Jessica Gregg was a member of Canada’s Oylmpic team in both 2010 and 2014. Gregg won a silver medal in the 3000m (short track) relay event at the 2010 games in Vancouver, BC.
Tamara Oudenaarden was an alternate skater in the 500m event (long track) at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.
ESSA coach Gordon Goplen skated for Canada at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. The Saskatoon native raced in the 5000m and 10000m events.
Cheyenne Goh was Singapore’s first ever winter Olympian when she represented that nation in the 1500m event (short track) at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.