Ringette's Rogiani looks to switch skates

Jessica Rogiani knew she was spinning in circles when it came to ringette. So, she decided to bank on RBC.

After going through the first few stages of the RBC Training Ground program, Sherwood Park's Jessica Rogiani has been identified as having potential as a speed skater. Photo Supplied

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Jessica Rogiani knew she was spinning in circles when it came to ringette.
So she decided to bank on RBC.
The 24-year-old Sherwood Park product had recently graduated from the University of Alberta, where she played for the Pandas ringette team and realized there was not much more she felt she could accomplish in the sport she had been playing for 18 years of her life.
That’s when she opted to look into the RBC Training Ground, a program which puts athletes through the paces in various tests to try and identify those that may have an aptitude to a particular Olympic sport — a model likely based on what they do in China to steer much younger children to the endeavors they are most likely to excel in.
Sherwood Park’s Kelsey Mitchell had gone through the program and was informed that although she had been a soccer standout for most of her life, that cycling may be her ticket for the future, becoming one of 30 athletes from across the nation to receive funding through RBC to pursue the sport with the encouragement of the national cycling body.
Rogiani opted to try to follow in her footsteps and exceeded benchmarks at the Edmonton testing and made it to the Alberta Qualifiers. At that provincial testing, she once again exceeded benchmarks in strength, speed, power and endurance and was invited to a Speed Skating Specific Testing camp by Speed Skating Canada. The camp, which featured the top 10 potential speed skaters from Western Canada, took place during the August long weekend at the Olympic Oval in Calgary and involved intensive on-ice and off-ice testing.
“I was kind of surprised to make it that far, especially with no experience in speed skating,” Rogiani said. “They are doing a testing camp in Eastern Canada as well and they will compile the results after that and we’ll see where I go from there. It was exciting to see myself exceed benchmarks set by Speed Skating Canada.
“It was really intense. We were on the ice two to three times a day and also doing dry-land training two or three times a day. It was a really cool opportunity to do these test on and off the ice.
“I feel like I did well, but it is hard to say because none of us had any real experience with speed skating, so it is hard to have a benchmark. My first choice would have been speed skating because it is closest to the experiences I have had playing ringette.”
Just having a potentially new sporting avenue open to her has Rogiani excited about sports again.
“It totally has me reinvigorated,” she said. “I graduated university and it hit me that ringette wasn’t going to be that competitive any more for me. I don’t know what I would do without sports.”
The Park product said that the RBC Training Ground program is a tremendous opportunity.
“Even just the opportunity to be a part of the testing was amazing,” Rogiani said. “Being discovered and getting the opportunity to try out at an elite level has been a really great experience. How it is set up, it is so well organized. I just think it is a really cool program.”
For now, Rogiani will just have to wait for the overall results with the hope that she will make the final roster of elite athletes to receive further training and funding.
“I would love to pursue this sport,” she said. “I am really hoping that they feel I have the potential to work towards making the national team and from there maybe even a shot at the Olympics. I hope the national coaches see potential in myself so that I can continue sports at a competitive level.”
Since 2015, RBC Training Ground has dedicated a total of $675,000 in funding to support promising future Olympians.