Catriona Le May Doan & Guest Judges Narrow the Search for Canada’s Best Speed Skating Story

– Top 16 Video Stories from Across Canada both Inspire and Amaze the Judges –

Catriona Le May Doan and National Speed Skating Team Guest Judges Jeremy Wotherspoon, Charles Hamelin, Alanna Kraus, Jessica Gregg and last year’s winner Alastair Starke have narrowed their search for Canada’s best speed skating story to the Top 16.

The Top 16, including all of the first-round match-ups, is available at www.INGSpeedSkatingChallenge.com.

For Catriona, the ING Speed Skating Challenge isn’t a competition to find the best young speed skater in Canada. More importantly, it’s about finding the best speed skating stories and experiences that kids have to share.

“When we decided to launch the second annual ING Speed Skating Challenge, we knew that young skaters in communities across Canada had great stories to tell about why they love the sport and what it means to them. And they’ve really responded to the challenge. The quality of our Top 16 is amazing,” said Catriona.

With dozens of videos received from Calgary, AB to Levis, QC; Kamloops, BC to St. Andrews, NB; and New Market, ON to Iqaluit, NT, the judges had the difficult task of determining which stories would be made available for national online voting.

Here, officially, are the Top 16 video stories from across the country (in no particular order):

Rachel Ruff, St. Croix Blades, St. Andrews, NB
Sam Wilson, Calgary Speed Skating Club, Calgary, AB
Tori Spence, River City Racers, Kamloops, BC
Brigitte Patenaude, Ottawa Pacers Speed Skating Club, Ottawa, ON
Aloka Wijesooriya, Iqaluit Speed Skating Association, Iqaluit, NT
Bruno Pettersen-Coulombe, Montreal Gadbouis, Varennes, QC
Kate Hanly, Calgary Speed Skating Association, Calgary, AB
Bill Allen, Newmarket Jets Speed Skating Club, Newmarket, ON
Alexandria Bau, Matsqui Blades, Abbotsford, BC
Scott MacHattie, Oakville Speed Skating Club, Mississauga, ON
Emily Hill, Edmonton Speed Skating Association, Sherwood Park, AB
Marco Smits, Portland Outdoors Speed Skating Club, Portland, ON
Amelie Tremblay, CPV St-Romauld, Levis, QC
Paul Pickard, Quinte Blades, Ameliasburg, ON
Benjamin Tam, Calgary Speed Skating Association, Calgary, AB
Alex Ianculescu, Markham Speed Skating Club, Markham, ON

The country will decide who has Canada’s best speed skating story when national online voting officially begins on Monday, February 9, 2009 at www.INGSpeedSkatingChallenge.com.

The winner will be crowned on March 21, 2009 at the ING Video Awards Party, during the season’s final weekend of competition at the ING Finale at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

ING and Speed Skating Canada partners have provided over $25,000 in prizes for clubs and young skaters.

ING SPEED SKATING CHALLENGE TIMELINE

Challenge opened: October 22, 2008
Challenge closed: January 18, 2009 (Video Entry Deadline)
National voting begins: February 9, 2009
Canada’s best speed skating story is crowned: March 21, 2009
Prizes: Over $25,000 in cash and prizes available to be won

MEET THE GUEST JUDGES

Catriona Le May Doan – Head Judge
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 “Oval Durness 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.

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ING – PROUD SUPPORTER OF PERSONAL BESTS

In 2006, ING Canada announced our Premier Partnership with Speed Skating Canada, which involves a commitment to the sport for over the next six years. With this support, we hope both to help elite athletes achieve their 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 speed skating originated, and it complements other existing ING sponsorships in Canada, most notably the Calgary Olympic Oval.

“ING in Canada is dedicated to high performance – for our customers, brokers, and employees,” said Derek Iles, Vice Chair and Senior Vice President, Western Division, ING Insurance Canada. “By partnering with Speed Skating Canada, we hope 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 just launched ING Speed Skating Challenge – the search for Canada’s best speed skating story. As a national organization that operates in many communities across Canada, we are always looking for a way to give back to those communities and make a difference.

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.