At the age of just 20, speed skater Alexa Scott is already checking impressive goals off her list.
The daughter of Virden’s Malcolm and Judy Scott first earned the opportunity to represent Canada on the International Skating Union World Cup circuit. Then, in just her second senior World Cup event, the long track speed skater teamed with Ivanie Blondin and Maddison Pearman to win silver in the women’s team sprint in Stavanger, Norway, on Nov. 20.
“My goal my whole life was to skate on the World Cup team, and for us to be that fortunate to medal means a lot to me and helps validate the sacrifices I have made to be here,” Scott said.
Scott grew up in Virden until she was 10. Her family then moved to Clandeboye. Scott’s parents moved back to Virden this past spring, while she lives and trains in Calgary.
She enjoyed a successful junior career that saw her win the all-around bronze at the World Junior Speed Skating Championships last year in Poland. As she is between 19 and 23, Scott fits into the neo senior age category but her placing at the Canadian Championships earlier this year bumped her up to compete on the senior circuit.
“I think it is fair to say that Alexa is ahead of most skaters her age at this point, but this isn’t uncommon to see when taking a global perspective, as there are other girls competing on the World Cup stage who are the same age as her,” said Tyler Williamson Derraugh, who coached Scott from 2015-2020 as the Manitoba Speed Skating provincial team coach. “However, Alexa certainly has a training maturity and dedication to her sport that most don’t develop until they are older.”
When working with Scott, Williamson Derraugh appreciated her work ethic and determination to improve.
“Every great athlete is constantly searching for perfection and Alexa is no different in that,” the coach said. “Alexa expects the best of herself every time she is on the ice and is trying to improve with every stride, every corner, and every lap. This made it a joy to work with Alexa because you knew that she was always going to give it her best, you know that when she shows up to train or compete there is no question, she will give every ounce of energy she has to be better.”
Williamson Derraugh said that Scott’s physical strengths as a speed skater are her power and aerobic capacity. However, he said even stronger is her will to succeed.
“Alexa has the unique ability to have a bad performance and immediately ‘turn it on’ and step her performance up to the next level,” Williamson Derraugh said. “Most people have a bad performance, and it becomes a spiral in which the negative thought process takes over and each race becomes progressively worse.”
The coach witnessed Scott shake off a poor performance and take it to the next level many times. His favourite example was on a December Friday night in 2019 in Roseville, Minn. Scott was slated to race back-to-back 500-metre races.
“Alexa skated a clean race in a time of 42.25 but was beat by a thousandth of a second by a competitor she typically would beat,” Williamson Derraugh said. “While most skaters would let this poor performance distract them, it flicked a switch for Alexa. One hour later, which is considered a short rest by our standards, they ran the second 500m race and Alexa skated a time of 41.02 which was a massive improvement over her first race. Alexa beat her competitor by over 1.3 seconds, which is a huge margin in the 500m, and to top it off, Alexa broke a 15-year-old track record, formerly held by Shannon Rempel (Manitoba Speed Skater and Olympic medalist & Canadian National Team coach) set in 2004 at the Junior World Championships. What’s impressive about this is that Alexa is a middle distance 1,500m and 1,000m skater, not a 500m specialist, but this showcased her incredible ability to respond to a challenge which separates the great from the good.”
In World Cup events, Scott is competing mentally and physically against the best in the world. Especially at her debut senior event in Poland, it took a some adjusting.
“I am a speed skating superfan so it’s amazing to be able to skate with athletes I have admired for years,” Scott said. “The first weekend in Poland, I was definitely a little starstruck, but it is getting to be more normal now.”
It was in just her second senior World Cup event that she helped Canada claim silver. The women’s team sprint is a fairly new event in speed skating. Scott explained:
“Each team starts with three skaters and you drop one skater every lap until the last skater in the train finishes. There are three skaters on a team and two teams race at a time starting on opposite sides of the rink.”
Emotions were high when the Canadian trio won silver.
“The girls and I were extremely excited when we realized we had won silver in the team sprint,” Scott said. “It is my first World Cup medal, so I was very excited and had my moment of jumping around happily.”
Scott’s individual results from her first two World Cup events were:
ISU World Cup No. 1
Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland
1500m Women Division B, 8th, 2:00.857
ISU World Cup No. 2
1500m Women Division B, 6th, 1:59.823
She has enjoyed the professionalism exhibited at the senior World Cup events.
“My fellow athletes show me what it’s like to be a professional athlete at the highest level and every day I learn more from them,” Scott said.
She is slated to skate this weekend at a World Cup event in Salt Lake City. Scott is excited for Dec. 9-11 when the World Cup comes to Calgary.
“I look forward to my parents being able to watch me race a senior World Cup. As well as having my boyfriend, who's also my training partner, around will be comforting,” she said.
Results from the first four World Cups will play a large role in determining who represents Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Competing at that level is another one of Scott’s goals. She has faith in whoever will wear her country’s colours.
“The Olympics have definitely been a huge dream of mine for years,” she said. “Speed skating in Canada has always been successful and I believe we have a very strong team.”