Jeremy Wotherspoon winner of the Oscar Award 2007/08

The «Oscar Award of Speed Skating» for the season 2007/08 will be given to the Canadian skater Jeremy Wotherspoon for his unique dominance on the 500-meter distance.

His world record race in 34.03 at the World Cup in Salt Lake City on November 9th and his overwhelming victory in the World Championship in Nagano four months later were highlights in a season where Wotherspoon produced an unparalleled string of seven races with a faster time than the old world record on the distance.

Wotherspoon’s world record race was delivered in his international come back, following a whole season’s absence from competitions, and in Nagano he won his first World Champion title since 2004.

The Oscar Mathisen Memorial Award has been presented annually since 1959 for the outstanding speed skating performance of the season. The winner is nominated by a five-member committee appointed by Oslo Skøiteklub (Oslo Skating Club).

This is the 50th Anniversary of the Oscar Award of speed skating, as Norway’s Knut Johannesen was given the first trophy for the 1958/59 season.

Wotherspoon, 31, from Red Deer, Alberta is the third Canadian to be honoured with the Oscar Award, following Gaétan Boucher in 1984 and Cindy Klassen in 2006.

Wotherspoon, who was already one of the most merited skaters in modern speed skating history, took a year off from speed skating and did not participate in the 2006/07 season.

The Canadian holds the Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010 as his big goal, and he took this break to gain energy and motivation to fulfil his ambitions of an Olympic gold medal.

His return to the skating rink surpassed all expectations – with a World record, ten World Cup victories, overall WC victory on the 500 m, a gold medal on the 500 m in the World Single Distances Championships in Nagano, Japan, and a silver medal in the World Sprint Championships in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.

Wotherspoon kicked off the World Cup season 2007/08 by breaking the 500 metres World record in Salt Lake City, U.S. on November 9, 2007. With the time 34.03 he was 22 hundredths of a second faster than the previous record. He beat the runner-up on the distance, former record holder Kang-Seok Lee from the Republic of Korea, by 17/100.

At the last skating competition of the season, in Calgary more than four months later, he won the 500 m in 34.05. This was Wotherspoon’s seventh race below the previous World record of 34.25, and it marked the end of a sensational season for a skater who has collected the amazing number of 67 World Cup wins during his long-lasting career.

During the season Wotherspoon set new track records on the 500 m in five of the world’s most prominent speed skating venues: The Thialf stadium in Heerenveen and the Olympic venues in Calgary, Hamar, Nagano and Salt Lake City.

Jeremy Wotherspoon made his international debut at the age of 18, finishing 16th in the overall competition at the 1995 World Junior Championships in Seinäjoki, Finland. The next year he made his first start in the World Cup and in the World Single Distances Championships. In 1998 he was for the first time the World Cup overall winner, in the 500 m as well as in the 1,000 m.

Including his overall victory on the 500 m last season, Wotherspoon has won the 500 m World Cup trophy no less than eight times. He has also won the 1,000 m WC overall three times. In addition to this, he has captured four gold medals, four silver medals and one bronze medal overall in the World Sprint Championships, with his first victory gained in Calgary 1999.

In the World Single Distances Championships, Wotherspoon has won gold medals in the 500 m in 2003, 2004 and 2008, and in the 1,000 m in 2001. He took an overwhelming victory on the 500 m in Nagano on March 7. The Canadian won both races and beat runner-up, the Korean 2008 World Sprint Champion, Kyou-Hyuk Lee, by 55/100.

Since the 1997/98 season, Wotherspoon has set 15 World records, three of them in the 500 m, six in the 1,000 m and six in the overall sprint combination.

Jeremy Wotherspoon is the fifth fully specialized speed-skating sprinter to win the Oscar Award, following Yevgeny Kulikov of the USSR in 1975, Gaétan Boucher of Canada in 1984, Bonnie Blair of the U.S. in 1992 and Hiroyasu Shimizu of Japan in 2001.

The «Oscar Award of Speed Skating» was introduced in 1959 by Oslo Skøiteklub (Oslo Skating Club) to commemorate the legendary Norwegian speed skater Oscar Mathisen (1888-1954).

The winner is awarded a miniature of the statue of Oscar Mathisen, created by the sculptor Arne Durban. The statue is placed outside Frogner Stadium in Oslo, the venue of many of Oscar Mathisen’s most memorable victories.

The members of the Oscar Mathisen Award Committee for 2007/08 are Laila Andresen, Tron Espeli, Hasse Farstad, Ådne Søndrål and Magne Teigen.