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Connor Howe: Bow Valley's Beijing Bound Athletes

“Two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought about it."

Connor Howe, speed skating, world cup silver medallist

Connor Howe is a problem.

With a long and charging stride, the six-foot-four athlete uses every inch of a towering frame to slice through fresh ice and push a fierce attack on the oval.

Somewhat of a quiet guy, how the bullet-on-ice shot up world rankings over the past two years has been anything but silent.

Winning medals on the world cup and world championship have almost become expected of Howe and he’s recently taken over as Canada’s top 1,500m skater, his specialty race. He’s only 21 – and getting better and faster everyday.

Oh yeah. Howe is absolutely a problem.

“Two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought about it,” said Howe on qualifying to his first Winter Olympic Games. 

“I was just getting on the international scene and in my first world championships I came in last in the 1,500. So I wasn’t really expecting this steep of a curve. I was a little tight and not skating and focusing the way I could and I didn’t have the confidence yet but that’s come since then.”


A post shared by Connor Howe (@connorhowe00)

In December 2021, Howe became one of Canmore’s first athletes to pre-qualify to the 2022 Games in the men’s 1,500 metre and Team Pursuit races with back-to-back podiums at the ISU world cup in Calgary.

The silver medal in the 1,500m was Howe’s first-ever individual medal on the top circuit and he flew across the line with a smoking personal best time of 1:42.42.

To add some more perspective on how fast that is, 25 years ago in 1997, Canadian Kevin Overland broke the 1,500m world record inside the very same Calgary Oval that Howe earned his recent PB … except Overland was about seven seconds slower than the Canmore skater at a time of 1:49.07.

The current world record is 1:40.17 taken by Dutch skater Kjeld Nuis in 2019.

Speaking of the Dutch, the Netherlands men’s pursuit team, one of the best in world and PyeongChang bronze medallist, will be a main competitor against Canada’s pursuit team of Howe, Jordan Belchos and Ted-Jan Bloeman.

Team pursuit is Howe’s best shot at landing on a podium in Beijing. It was during the 2020-21 season that Howe started making noise as part of the trio of Canucks.

The speed skating events take place inside the recently opened Ice Ribbon, the crown jewel of Beijing’s Olympic venues. It features a 400-metre ice racing track and enough seating to accommodate up to 12,000 screaming fans.

A huge fan of watching and playing tennis, Howe grew up admiring the skill set of all-time great Roger Federer. 

Describing the 20-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic medallist as elegant and skilled, Howe’s grace in a pair of skates has placed him in a conversation that Federer was once in; one that ignites debates in inner-circles and within media and sportscasters: contending for Olympic medals.

From humble beginnings at the Banff Canmore Speed Skating club, Howe started out as a short track skater and, admittedly, wasn’t that good at the sport.

At age 15 he started speed skating on the long track and excelled as an athlete, winning the Peter Williamson Memorial Bursary from Speed Skating Canada, awarded annually to promising skaters who best combine athletic and scholastic achievement. The speedy Canuck also won Alberta Junior Long Track Speed Skater of the Year in 2018-19 and 2016-17.

“The first few years I just did it for fun,” said Howe. “I didn’t even want to race I just kind of in it for the skating and then eventually I got racing and more into it and went along from there.”

He’s won five world cup medals and one world championship silver in a year’s time, which has bolstered an undeniably growing confidence. Because of this meteoric rise, Howe has set new goals for Beijing.

“As I’ve come up faster than I’d thought, now I’m thinking an Olympic medal would be really cool, for sure,” he said.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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