2010 Olympic Hopefuls Jeremy Wotherspoon & Charles Hamelin Headline Guest Judges’ Panel for ING Speed Skating Challenge

There certainly won’t be a lack of talent or star power on the guest judges panel for the second annual ING Speed Skating Challenge: there are Olympians, World and National Champions and World Record Holders, with too many medals to count between them.

Two-time Olympic Champion Catriona Le May Doan will again assume the role of head judge, and has extended an invitation to World Champion long track skater Jeremy Wotherspoon and Olympic short track skater Charles Hamelin to join her on the panel.

“If anyone knows great speed skating stories, it’s our panel of guest judges. They’ve all lived speed skating in this country, growing up in community clubs and coming through the system to represent Canada all over the world,” added Catriona.

Jeremy Wotherspoon’s comeback story has become legendary. After taking a year off following the 2006 Olympics and spending time in Norway on a fishing boat, he returned to the ice to win nine out of ten World Cup races in 2007-08.

Charles Hamelin’s story is all about family ties: younger brother Francois also competes for Canada on the short track team and father Yves is their coach, as well as Speed Skating Canada’s short track program director.

To help select the Top 16 video finalists, Catriona has also recruited two-time Olympic medalist Alanna Kraus and up-and-coming short track sensation Jessica Gregg. As the daughter of an Olympic long track speed skater Kathy Gregg and NHL defenseman Randy Gregg, Jessica knows what she’s doing on the ice and brings a lot of family history to her role as a guest judge.

Alanna Kraus, who now works for ING in Calgary, has developed a strong relationship with ING after retiring from the National Team in 2008 and is looking forward to her role as a guest judge. "Growing up in Abbotsford, BC, and getting involved in speed skating at the community club level, it’s amazing to see what the sport has become in Canada,” added Alanna. “And that’s what the ING Speed Skating Challenge is all about – how the sport can inspire you and make you laugh. I saw that in the video stories last year and I’m really looking forward to being a guest judge this year.”

Rounding out the panel of judges is a young skater who knows a thing or two about telling great stories. Alastair Starke’s “Durness Oval Story” prevailed as Canada’s Best Speed Skating story in the first ING Challenge and this year, he’ll join Catriona and the others to select the Top 16.

Following the January 18, 2009 deadline for video submission, the panel of judges will convene to view the video stories and make their recommendations for the Top 16.

National voting begins on February 9, 2009.

To find out more information on the guest judges for this year’s ING Challenge or enter your video, please visit www.INGSpeedSkatingChallenge.com.

MEET THE JUDGES

Catriona Le May Doan
Few names are as synonymous with speed skating excellence as Catriona Le May Doan. Her Olympic and World Cup victories started Canada back on the track towards becoming a dominant skating nation.

Jeremy Wotherspoon – 2010 Vancouver Games Medal Hopeful
Wotherspoon is one of Canada’s most decorated male athletes. A world record holder in the 500m, Jeremy finished first overall in the 2007-2008 World Cup season, winning nine out of ten 500m races.

Charles Hamelin – 2010 Vancouver Games Medal Hopeful
Charles Hamelin has represented Canada at the 2006 Olympics and competed on the World Cup circuit for the past five years, recently winning his first gold medal in the 1000m at the World Cup in Vancouver in October.

Alanna Kraus
A two-time Olympian in Short Track Speed Skating, Alanna medaled at the Salt Lake City and 2006 Torino Games in the 3000 m relay. Upon retiring, Alanna began work with ING as a Marketing Coordinator.

Jessica Gregg – 2010 Vancouver Games Medal Hopeful
The Overall Canadian Junior Champion of 2006 skated to a silver medal finish in her first World Championships in 2008.

Alastair Starke
Alastair’s “Durness Oval Story” captured the title of Canada’s Best Speed Skating Story in last year’s ING Speed Skating Challenge. Alastair is currently living in Calgary, training in the real Olympic oval.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Russell Reimer
Partner, Agenda Sport Marketing
(403) 585-8242
russell@agendasport.ca

Rosa Nelson
Communications Manager
ING Insurance Company of Canada
rosa.nelson@ingcanada.com

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ING – PROUD SUPPORTER OF PERSONAL BESTS

In 2006, ING Canada announced a Premier Partnership with Speed Skating Canada that involves a commitment of approximately $2 million over six years. With this support, we hope to help both elite athletes achieve gold medal dreams, and to further grow this sport in communities across the country.

For ING, this partnership represents a great fit as it ties into our roots in the Netherlands, where the sport originated, and it complements other existing ING sponsorships in Canada, most notably with the Calgary Olympic Oval.

“ING in Canada is dedicated to high performance - for our customers, brokers, and employees,” said Derek Iles, President of ING Insurance Company of Canada. “By partnering with Speed Skating Canada, we want to work together to highlight and build on the performances and achievements of Canada's speed skating champions and to bring the sport of speed skating to communities across the country, where our customers and brokers work and live.”

We‘re proud of our involvement in both ING On The Edge, a program that works with Speed Skating Canada to bring speed skating into elementary schools and provide young people with skating instruction, and the ING Speed Skating Challenge – the search for Canada’s best speed skating story.

ABOUT ING

ING Insurance is the largest auto, property and liability insurer in Canada with a network of more than 2,800 independent insurance brokerages. It is part of ING Canada (TSX: IIC), which provides insurance products to individuals and businesses through ING Insurance and other subsidiaries.