Hughes & Klassen announced as finalists for the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association’s selection for Female Athlete of the Year for 2005

Two previous winners have been nominated in the female athlete category, two-time recipient CINDY KLASSEN (2002-2003) of speed skating fame, and her teammate and speed skating compatriot CLARA HUGHES (1996).

Joining them on the list of five for the final ballot are Pan American squash gold medallist ALANA MILLER, Canadian singles and doubles racquetball champion JENNIFER SAUNDERS, and swimming's double gold medallist at the Canada Summer Games LANDICE YESTRAU.

The finalists for male athlete are the World Cup 10-pin bowling champion MIKE SCHMIDT, Manitoba Amateur Golfer of the Year GARTH COLLINGS, the Prairie Junior Football Conference Most Valuable Player NATHAN FRIESEN of the Winnipeg Rifles, and two hockey players, Brandon Wheat King ERIC FEHR, the Western Hockey League's scoring champion, and Manitoba Bison PAUL DENISET, the Most Valuable Player in the Canada West conference.

The deciding vote of the Manitoba media for Team of the Year, and the Maurice Smith Memorial trophy, will be a choice between the JENNIFER JONES CANADIAN WOMEN'S CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP foursome, MANITOBA'S CANADIAN CHAMPION MID-AMATEUR GOLF team, the PORTAGE TERRIERS, junior hockey's Anavet Cup champions, the Canada Cup champion MANITOBA UNDER-17 FOOTBALL team, and the WINNIPEG RIFLES, finalists in the Prairie Junior Football Conference.

After the final ballot, the winners will be declared at the 50th annual Athletes of the Year awards dinner on Sunday, January 29th, 2006, at the Delta Winnipeg. Ticket information is available through dinner chairman Ken Kobelka, phone 253-2341.

Other MSSA awards to be presented at the dinner are the Cactus Jack Wells Memorial trophy to recognize the event having the most impact on the sports scene, and the Dallis Beck Memorial Good Guy/Gal award to an individual providing exceptional assistance to the sports media.

In addition, the late Moe Cartman, who served as sports editor of the Portage Graphic from 1979-92, will be inducted posthumously into the MSSA Manitoba Media Roll of Honour, for outstanding commitment and dedication to regional sports coverage in the newspaper.

MORE DETAILS ON THE FINALISTS

FEMALE

CLARA HUGHES (speed skating) - Bronze medallist in the 5,000 metres and silver medallist in team pursuit at the World Single Distance Championships; placed second overall in the 2005 Continental Championships; helped to set a world record by Canada in the team pursuit; and was a bronze medallist in the World All-round Speed Skating Championships.

CINDY KLASSEN (speed skating) - Speed Skating Canada's long track female skater of the year; world cup champion in the 1,500 metres; gold medallist in the 1,500 and 3,000 metres, and silver medallist in the team pursuit at the World Single Distance Championships; placed first overall in the 2005 Continental Championships; helped to set a world record by Canada in the team pursuit; was a silver medallist in the World All-round Speed Skating Championships; and set world records in the 1,500 metres (twice) and the
3,000 metres.

ALANA MILLER (squash) - Gold medallist in the Pan American Championships with a victory over top seed Samantha Teran of Mexico in the final; lost in the qualifying round at the World Open Squash Championships in Hong Kong; ranked number two in Canada; silver medallist in the Canadian championships and at the Liberty Bell Open tournament.

JENNIFER SAUNDERS (racquetball) - Canadian singles and doubles champion in racquetball, defeating Linda Ellerington 15-3, 11-15, and 11-1 in the singles final; defeated Lari-Jane Powell 15-13, 4-15, 11-2 in the Canadian Open final, and reached the round of 16 in the U.S. Open tournament.

LANDICE YESTRAU (swimming) - Double gold medallist at the Canada Summer Games in Regina, winning the 50 and 100-metre backstroke; ranked third in Canada in the 100 backstroke; Western Canadian champion in the 50 and 200 backstroke; helped the Canadian 4x100 medley relay team to a silver medal in the Junior Pan Pacific Championship in Hawaii; qualified for Commonwealth Games.


F.M.I. -- Bob Picken, MSSA secretary;