Alec Janssens.

Alec Janssens.

Alec Janssens: Speedster

Chilliwack's Alec Janssens, 20, as featured in The Chilliwack Progress Forty Under 40.

Alec Janssens didn’t have an easy summer in 2011.

The 20-year-old had just finished a busy year, juggling speed-skating and academic commitments in Calgary, the home of the University of Calgary and Speed-skating Canada’s primary training facility. Coming back to his hometown of Chilliwack, Janssens would have liked a little time to relax and refresh.

But the life of an elite athlete doesn’t allow for much downtime.

“I ended up working full time doing a manual labour job from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day,” Janssens said. “Came home. Had dinner. Did a training session. Had another dinner and trained again until about 9:30 at night. Then I went to sleep.”

By the end of the summer, Janssens was dying to get back to Calgary.

The summer of 2012 figures to be much easier for the former Sardis Flier, who honed his speed-skating techniques under the watchful eye of coach George Donnatelly.

Two weekends ago, Janssens was named to the Canadian Development National Team, a massive step in the young man’s career.

“I’ll still need a part-time job to cover my living expenses,” said Janssens, who qualified for the national team in the 10,000 metre distance. “But I won’t have to work as much and I’ll be able to concentrate a lot more on training and school.”

His best race this season was at a meet in Quebec City, where he actually fell in the 10,000 metre race, yet still managed to win by a good 12 seconds.

Janssens put together an equally impressive performance to win the 5,000 metre race at the North American championship in Calgary, but a technicality got him disqualified. Standing six-foot-six, Janssens takes up a lot of ice striding side to side. In that race his toe crept over the center line a couple times, a no-no in a sport where staying in your lane is of paramount importance.

Regardless, the 2011-12 season solidified the Chilliwackian’s status as one of the sport’s young guns.

“And with the national team, I’ll have access to video analysis and physiotherapy and it’s not coming out of my time or pocket anymore,|” Janssens enthused. This will dramatically help me to take the next step.”

Though the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are still aways away, Janssens is now clearly on Canada’s radar.