Airdronian qualifies for Olympic Games

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Airdrie speed skater Brianne Tutt’s four years of dedication and hard work paid off Jan. 10 when she was named to Canada’s 2018 Olympic Winter Games long track speed skating team.

Tutt, who was named alongside 18 other athletes, will represent Canada in her second-straight Olympic Games but this time the 25-year-old has higher expectations for herself.

“This time is going to be a lot different from last time,” Tutt said. “I definitely want to go and have two solid performances and try and surprise myself.”

Tutt qualified for the team after competing in Speed Skating Canada’s 2018 Long Track Team Selections held in Calgary Jan. 4 to 9, where she won the ladies 1,500-metre event and finished third in the 3,000-metre event.

“Coming into these (Games), I knew this was a team I should be on based on how I’m doing this year,” Tutt said. “The first time (at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia) I was so focused on just getting on that team, that was all I wanted to do.

“Now, it’s good to get on the team, but I have more goals to accomplish.”

Tutt’s path to Olympic glory hasn’t been an easy one as the speed skater suffered a career-threatening injury in 2012 when she was hit from behind by a fellow skater during practice at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

Tutt recovered from her injuries, bounced back as an athlete and qualified for her first Olympics just 13 months later.

The hometown Olympian, who has been involved in speed skating since the age of 12, said she has more appreciation of the opportunity to continue her career and is focused on making her time in Pyeongchang, South Korea count.

Tutt said her previous trip to the world’s biggest sporting event was more about the experience of being at the Olympics and enjoying that. She added Pyeongchang will be a different experience, and she is more focused on contending and bringing home medals.

“I was young and overcame a lot to make that team,” Tutt said of the 2014 Games. “I think I got drawn in to all the excitement that happens at the Games.

“This time, I’m going to have a lot more focus because of the high expectations I have on myself.”

At the 2014 Olympic Games Tutt finished 34th in the 1,500-metre event with a time of 2:03.69, but has since set a new personal best, skating to a 1:53.99 Dec. 3, 2017 at the World Cup #3 event in Calgary.

The Airdronian started the 2017-18 speed skating season in the B Division, but finished third in the World Cup #1 Event in Heenrenveen, Netherlands, and was bumped up to the A Division in the 1,500-metre, which she said is her strongest event.

Since then, she finished 14th, fifth and 11th in the next three respective World Cup events. Tutt is currently ranked 11th in the World Cup standings.

“Every multi-time Olympian that I’ve met has always said that every Games has a different vibe and feeling to it,” Tutt said.

“It’s going to be different and that’s exciting, but you’re never fully-prepared for what to expect at the Games.”

Tutt continues her speed-skating season Jan. 19 to 21, when she takes part in World Cup #5 in Erfurt, Germany. She will be looking to make strong statement just weeks before the Feb. 9 Olympic Games kickoff.

– with files from Jodi Egan

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