Catriona Le May Doan Crowns First Annual Winner of the ING Speed Skating Challenge – Lloydminster’s Alastair Starke named Canada’s Best Speed Skating Story –

Calgary, Alberta – After five weeks and over 42,500 online votes from across the country, the title of Canada’s Best Speed Skating Story was awarded to Alastair Starke representing the Lloydminster Border Blades Speed Skating Club in Alberta at a gala evening hosted by Catriona Le May Doan.

Catriona Le May Doan interviews ING Speed Skating Challenge winner Alastair Starke and his father and coach Richard, Photo: Ewan Nicholson, courtesy ING Canada
With over 50 members of Canada’s national speed skating team in attendance, including Guest Judges Kristina Groves and Olivier Jean, the ING Video Awards Party was an opportunity to bring Canada’s best speed skaters together with Canada’s best speed skating stories.

“When we began the search for Canada’s best speed skating story, the goal was to provide young skaters from across the country with a voice – a way of building a speed skating community by sharing their love for the sport. We saw a lot of that tonight and throughout the ING Speed Skating Challenge,” said Catriona.

With a grassroots campaign that included flyer distribution, media interviews with local newspapers and radio stations, Alastair Starke’s video story represented a chance for the whole club and community to work together.

Catriona Le May Doan with ING Speed Skating Challenge winner Alastair Starke, Photo: Ewan Nicholson, courtesy ING Canada

Alastair’s father Richard Starke, who also happens to be his coach, is proud of his son’s accomplishments but is particularly happy with the theme of the story.

"The ING Speed Skating Challenge has brought a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for speed skating, both in our club and the entire community. As Alastair's dad and his coach, I'm very proud that he has told a story that isn't about him, but about our club and the love we all share for the sport of speed skating," said Richard.

Catriona Le May Doan also surprised guests with an award for her Most Inspirational Story. For Catriona, it was an opportunity to single out one story that touched her personally.

“Like so many young Canadians, your family is your immediate support system that gets you into your first pair of skates and inspires you to reach your potential. Andrea Johnson’s story – Like Grandmother. Like Granddaughter. – really shows that speed skating is a sport passed down from generation-to-generation that brings families closer together,” added Catriona.

Joining Andrea Johnson was her grandmother May Johnson. The two accepted the award for Catriona’s Most Inspirational Story together.

The final ING Speed Skating Challenge award winners are now online at: SpeedSkatingNation.com.

MEET THE AWARD WINNERS

Canada’s Best Speed Skating Story: Alastair Starke
• Club: Lloydminster Border Blades Speed Skating Club, Alberta
• Story title: Durness Oval Story
• Alastair Starke’s story sounds like a something right out of a Hollywood script. When the 17-year-old needed a place to train for the Alberta Games, he built an oval on a frozen slough on his family’s farm just outside of Lloydminster, Alberta.

Runner-up: Sarah Ali
• Club: Iqaluit Speed Skating Association, Nunavut
• Story title: Nunavut Pride
• 16-year-old Sarah Ali has been speed skating for six years in her hometown of Iqaluit. She counts representing Nunavut at competitions as her skating highpoint, but also really wants to be a positive role model for younger skaters at her club.

Catriona’s Most Inspirational: Andrea Johnson
• Club: Winnipeg Speed Skating Club
• Story title: Like Grandmother. Like Granddaughter.
• Andrea Johnson’s story is about following in her grandmother’s footsteps. A talented young speed skater from Winnipeg that now trains at the Olympic Oval in Calgary recently won the same award for speed skating that her grandmother did in 1948.

Media Interviews: Interviews are available upon request and video stories are available in original format for editorial use.

ING SPEED SKATING CHALLENGE PRIZES

Grand Prize: Canada’s Best Speed Skating Story
• $5,000 donation from ING to the winner’s speed skating club
• $1,500 gift certificate for new speed skates
• Timex Triathlon digital heart rate monitor
• Premium Hbc gift certificates
• iPod gift package
• Canon digital camera

Second Prize: Runner-up
• $2,500 donation from ING to the runner-up’s speed skating club
• Timex Triathlon digital heart rate monitor
• Premium Hbc gift certificates
• iPod gift package
• Canon digital camera

Catriona’s Most Inspirational
• $1,000 donation from ING to the speed skating club
• Timex Triathlon digital heart rate monitor
• Premium Hbc gift certificates
• iPod gift package
• Canon digital camera

Additional prizes are awarded to the Top 16, 8 and 4 respectively.