Speed skater laces up for Italy
by Dan Plouffe - Orleans Star - East Ottawa - March 11st 2009
Orléans native Nicolas Bean was just getting over a nasty case of food-borne illness, but that wasn’t what kept him from competing at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships this past weekend.
The former Gloucester Concordes athlete now races for Italy internationally, but he isn’t allowed to take part in the worlds until three years after the last worlds competition he skated for Canada. Bean was a member of Team Canada for the junior worlds in 2006 and had been training in Montreal on the national development team up until this season when he chose to make a big move. Because of Canada’s tremendous depth in speed skating, the 21-year-old wasn’t getting any chances to race internationally once he moved up to the senior level. So when Bean acquired dual-citizenship thanks to his grandfather’s Italian origins, the decision to start a new life in a new country wasn’t very difficult to make.
“It was like five seconds,” Bean says. “Either I take my chances with Canada – which would be my first choice, but train for another four years until I get to the level that you need to participate internationally, and I may not even get there – or I take advantage of this opportunity to learn another language, live in another country, train in another system, and get life experience and international racing experience. I said why not?”Bean went over to Italy and qualified for their national team easily enough. But the transition to life in the north of the country in Bormio was far from easy. “Nothing could prepare me for the language barrier, the culture shock and the training structure,” admits Bean. “All this year has been an adaptation.”