Castlegar’s Tyler Hartleb is looking forward to being the third generation of his family to represent B.C. at the Canada Winter Games.
He will be part of B.C.’s long track speed skating team competing at the Prince George games to be held Feb. 13 to 28.
Hartleb has been training under national development coaches at the Olympic Oval in Calgary since last summer and is attending high school in Calgary this school year.
He remains a member of the Nelson Speed Skating Club. His father, Jason Hartleb was the coach of the Nelson club but now coaches long track with the Calgary Speed Skating Club.
Tyler’s grandfather, Gord Gibson was the head coach of the BC Biathlon team at Charlottetown in 1991 and Grand Prairie in 1995. And his mother, Melanie (Gibson) Hartleb was an athlete in the biathlon event at Grand Prairie.
Hartleb will be skating in the 500 metre, 1500 metre, 3000 metre, 5000 metre, Team Pursuit, and Mass Start events.
While he qualified for both short track and long track skating, he chose long track.
“It was a tough choice but I like skating outdoors and I like the faster top speeds. B.C. will have one of the top teams in both short and long track.
“B.C. has a good chance to medal in the Team Pursuit and some of the other long track events.”
When asked of his best event Hartleb didn’t hesitate to say, “the longer the race the better; the 5000 metre. I have good endurance and really enjoy the longer distances.”
No stranger to competing, Hartleb raced in short track skating at the 2012 and 2014 BC Winter Games bringing home two silvers and a bronze medal in 2014. He was also the BC Long Track Champion in 2013.
Gord Gibson coached the sport of biathlon for over 25 years.
“I’m very proud to have had my daughter and now my grandson representing B.C. at this national event. Coaching at the national level is very satisfying. It’s motivating to coach athletes at their top level and to see some of them go on to represent Canada at international events, including the Olympics.”
Tyler’s mom, Melanie, competed in biathlon for about 10 years. While she was the top B.C. biathlete at the B.C. trials for the 1991 Canada Games in P.E.I., at age 14 she was ruled ineligible for the 15 to 19 year age limits.
She stayed with the sport and was able to represent B.C. at the 1995 Grand Prairie games.
“I had a great time competing and traveling around the country with biathlon. My dad and I both introduced Tyler to biathlon. He was quite good at it until he tried speed skating and found his niche. He got so fast at the short track skating that I was afraid to watch him careening around the track with four or five other skaters. Some of the crashes are spectacular and skaters often get hurt but Tyler has been lucky so far, only one broken arm. I’m glad he chose long track where there are far fewer crashes.”
The 1500 metre event, scheduled for Feb. 17, will be broadcast live on TSN.
“It will be my first time skating under national television coverage,” said Tyler. “I’m looking forward to it. These Canada Winter Games should be a fun experience.
“I am excited to be going to Prince George. It’s not my first major Canadian event but it is the most important in my skating career to date. I have had excellent training here in Calgary. I’m proud to be representing B.C., competing for the home team.”