Aimé Perreault, who had been a member of the Quebec speed skating team on the long track for less than six months, managed the feat of qualifying for the final two World Cups of the season in Poland in February.
“I’m happy, but I won’t believe it until I’m there,” said the 20-year-old long-distance runner. I skated with the juniors and the masters at the Center de Glaces until September, but I saw great progress. »
Perreault’s career is anything but orthodox. A member of the Saint-Étienne club in short track for eight years, he also found success in cross-country where he was selected for the provincial team on the basis of his performance, but a logistical error changed course.
“In December 2021 I still hadn’t received my skis and had to find another alternative,” he explained. Thanks to my first short track coach, Daniel Dubreuil, I tried my luck at long track. I had boots molded and had no money for skis. So I kept going, even though I didn’t like it at first. »
After a first race in Calgary during a Canada Cup, Perreault clocked 6:50 on last October’s stages before setting a personal best of 6:40:98 on January 6th.
His performance allowed him to finish second in the 5000m and earn his ticket to Poland. The winner Jordan Belchos was already pre-qualified.
“I wasn’t surprised by his results because he has all the basic physical qualities, but he did a lot of technical work, which explains his rapid rise,” said his coach Marc-André Poudrier-Michaud. Because of his athleticism and knowledge of his body, he will be good at any sport. It’s possible he’ll hit a small plateau in his development, but it’ll be our job to figure out where the ceiling is. »
Perreault thinks qualifying for the 2026 Olympic Games in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo is possible.
“When I start something, I want to finish it and I will work towards it,” he said. That wasn’t the case last year but I think it’s now realistic to believe in my chances of qualifying for 2026. I’m aware that I’m not progressing that fast, but I’m giving myself three years. If the development board takes too long, I will not waste time and stop. »
Perreault continues to practice cross-country skiing and also rides a bike to perfect his training.
“I can’t skate six days a week or I get bored and quit,” he said. It’s not the most physically demanding sport, but skating is the most mentally demanding sport because you have to make time every day. »
“I have to balance and do something else consistent with my development to go after whoever was among the 30 athletes selected for the RBC national camp in Ottawa in the fall. When I go cross-country skiing, I don’t go there to watch the birds. It is beneficial training for the skate. I started cross country skiing when I was 5 years old and I will never stop. »
First skater with a helmet
As he has done since his long-distance debut, Perreault will wear a helmet in Poland.
“I wanted to be the first to skate with a World Cup helmet in an individual event. It’s going to be something special. It will make people react and some will think I’m there as a tourist like was the case in Calgary when I started last March. My opponents had smiles on their faces, but they found it less funny when I won the 5000m. It doesn’t bother me and it makes me stronger. »
In Poland, the Lévis skater will find himself in Group B on his first trip outside of Canada.
“I want to gain experience, see how the other skaters prepare and do a better time in the second race,” he concludes.