Speed skater Snelgrove not slowing down

Athlete Julia Snelgrove skating at the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
Athlete Julia Snelgrove skating at the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
Julia Snelgrove competes in the 2023 Canada Winter Games as a short track skater.
(Communications NS/Len Wagg)

Julia Snelgrove’s speed skating career has landed on a fast track to success.

The 16-year-old Dartmouth resident put in a dominant performance on the national stage in January at the Canadian long track championships in Quebec City, capturing what is believed to be Nova Scotia’s first gold at the junior level with a victory in the 500-metre event. She would follow that up with wins in the 1,500- and 3,000-metre races and added a bronze in the 1,000.

That earned her a spot on the team that represented Canada at the ISU world junior championships in February in Hachinohe, Japan. Snelgrove made more history, helping the four-member sprint team win Canada’s first medal in the history of that event, a bronze. Snelgrove placed 10th in the women’s all-around standings, recording a personal best in the 3,000 metres.

Snelgrove doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon. She has competed in short track speed skating and cycling at the Canada Winter Games and plays for the provincial ringette team. The weekend after her return from worlds, she was back on the ice at a ringette tournament.

Snelgrove splits her training between Dartmouth and the Calgary Olympic Oval and is coached by Todd Landon of the Dartmouth Crossing Speedskating Club and Phil Riopel of the Olympic Oval program.

In her own words, Snelgrove talks about her upbringing in speed skating and plans for the future:

Starting out:

I was 11 and there was a come and try speed skating event, and some of my friends were in it at the time, so I decided to go. I liked it a lot. I had been in ringette by that point, so this was a way that I could concentrate on just skating rather than having to worry about trying to move a ring.”

Realizing her talent:

“In 2022, I went to junior nationals for short track and long track and I won a couple medals there, so then I realized I could turn this into something if I worked hard enough, so that’s where it started.”

Representing Canada:

“That was super fun. It was really cool to see all the other athletes from around the world, because I’d only seen other athletes from across Canada. We got our Team Canada gear a little early so I was able to watch video of me skating with it on and I almost didn’t recognize myself. It looked pretty cool and I was really proud.”

What’s next:

“I’m just trying to be open to as many opportunities as possible and see where it goes. For the national team, if I make that, I’ll likely have to end up moving out of Nova Scotia, but that’s a problem for the future. I’m just hoping to climb up the ladder, basically. It’d be the junior national team, then the next-gen national team and then the regular national team. From there you can do World Cups, Olympics, all of that. But I have to take it one step at a time.”

More to explore