The speed skater, specializing in long track, is getting a chance to face international competition while representing Canada at world cup events and the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships over the next weeks in a bubble format in the Netherlands.
With top results in mind, Howe is hoping the shortened 2020 training season doesn’t factor into his performance.
“I’m going for the top 16 in the 1,000 metre and 1,500m, and I think it’s possible Canada could hit a podium in team pursuit, as well,” said Howe, who'll be one of the youngest competitors out there.
“We’re just trying to get the feel back on ice. I feel like I’ve done good base [workouts] and fitness, so now it’s just transferring that to the long track.”
In the sport, the 20-year-old is nationally ranked third in senior men’s 1,500 metres and fourth in 1,000m.
On the world cup circuit this month, he will compete in both events, plus the team pursuit from Jan. 22-24 and Jan. 29-31. But the former member of the Banff/Canmore Speed Skating club is strategizing for the events after the pandemic wreaked havoc on training schedules.
Travelling became a necessity for the young skater after the Calgary Olympic Oval, his home ice, was shut down in September due to mechanical issues. Howe got in a two-week camp in mid-November at Fort St. John, a north eastern B.C. town over 900 kilometres away from Calgary. Plus some outdoor training at social media gemstones Ghost and Gap lakes in the MD of Bighorn.
“That was a really big challenge [in 2020] with COVID,” Howe said. “It was a lot less [training] than in a normal year, but it was still something.
“We’re kind of going into [the international races] without too high of expectations.”
The hope is that by the time world championships rolls around from Feb. 11-14, he’ll have gotten back into the groove and will be ready to peak.
It's Howe's second season on the National Long Track Speed Skating Team and third competing at the senior international level.
With the Winter Olympic games around the corner in 2022, the speed skater feels like wearing the Maple Leaf is within grasp.
By then though, he should have gotten in a full training camp when his next opportunity against the world's best comes up.