Long track season starts with Oval Invitational & Fall World Cup Trials, Nov. 1-4

Long track season starts with Oval Invitational and Fall World Cup Trials, Nov. 1-4
World and Olympic champions and medallists to compete at Calgary’s Olympic Oval

CALGARY
– With the Fall Classic and early season time trials completed, the long track speed skating season gets underway this weekend at Calgary’s Olympic Oval as it plays host to the Oval Invitational and Speed Skating Canada’s Fall World Cup long track trials. Canada’s best long track speed skaters, including 12 national and 20 development teams members, will be on hand for the trials from Thursday, Nov. 1 through to Sunday, Nov. 4.

The Fall World Cup trials offer an opportunity for speed skating fans in Calgary to see Canada's best, including Olympic, world championship and World Cup champions.

From this season's 32 national and development teams group, 28 skaters took part in at least one World Cup or world championship during the 2011-12 season standing on the podium 29 times. London, Ont., native Christine Nesbitt was world champion in the 1,000 and 1,500 metres. She had a total of 18 individual medals and four in team pursuit. The men's 1,500-metre world champion, Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., also earned two World Cup silver medals and a bronze. Jamie Gregg of Edmonton captured his first win taking the gold medal in the 500 metres at the World Cup finale. Winnipeg's Cindy Klassen added to her extensive medal collection with a bronze medal in the 1,500 metres at the World All-Round Championships and another four medals (three gold and one silver) in the team pursuit. Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg teamed up with Klassen and Nesbitt for the four pursuit medals.

The complete list of skaters will be available on the Olympic Oval's and SSC’s results web site.

The women will be competing in the following distances: 500, 1,000, 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 metres. Five national team women and nine from the development team are eligible to compete in all five distances, but will focus on their specialties. The other women will be positioned in specific distances according to their Canadian ranking. The national and development teams women are eligible to compete in each event. There will be 20 competitors eligible for the 500 metres, 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres, and 16 in the 3,000 metres and 12 in the 5,000 metres, based on the ranking list from last season.

The men will face distances of 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 metres. Like the women, seven national team members and 11 from the development team are also eligible to compete in all five distances, but will focus on their specialties. Top ranked athletes have also qualified for select races. The national and development teams men are eligible to compete in each event. There will be 20 competitors eligible for the 500 metres, 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres, and 16 in the 5,000 metres and 12 in the 10,000 metres, based on the ranking list from last season.

The first pair starts racing at 9.a.m. on each day. On Thursday, the trials will feature the men's 1,500-metre distance and women's 3,000. Friday will see men competing in the 1,000 and 5,000 metres and the 1,500-metre distance for women. Racing on Saturday will feature junior men's 3,000 metres and men's 10,000 metres. Women will race the 1,000- and 5,000-metre distances. On the final day of the trials on Sunday, the men and women's will skate the 500 metres twice. The women’s and men’s mass start will be held on Sunday.

The trials assist in identifying the teams for the first five World Cups of the 2012-13 season. The first long track World Cup will be held Friday, Nov. 16 to Sunday, Nov. 18 in Heerenveen, Netherlands. The first event will feature all distances: two 500-metre races; 1,000, 1,500, 3,000 (women), 5,000 (men), mass start and team pursuit.

The second and third World Cups feature middle and long distances. The second World Cup is in Kolomna, Russia, on Nov. 24 and 25, with these specific distances: 1,500, 3,000 (women), 5,000 (men) and mass start. The third competition is in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Dec. 1 and 2, and highlights the 1,500 and team pursuit for men and women, 5,000 for women, 10,000 for men.

The final two World Cups on the fall schedule will feature the 500- and 1,000-metre sprint distances. Nagano, Japan, will host the fourth World Cup on Dec. 8 and 9, and the fifth World Cup moves to Harbin, China, on Dec. 15 and 16.

Based on last year’s World Single Distance Championships, the top five in an individual event or top three in the team pursuit, several athletes were identified for the fall World Cups. Nesbitt will compete in the 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-metre races and Klassen in the 1,500. Nesbitt and Klassen will also take part in the team pursuit with Brittany Schussler. Morrison was pre-selected for the 1,000 metres and 1,500.

The national team members include Jordan Belchos of Toronto, Anastasia Bucsis of Calgary, Kali Christ of Regina, Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, Que., Jamie Gregg of Edmonton, Gilmore Junio of Calgary, Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg, Lucas Makowsky of Regina, Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., Muncef Ouardi of Quebec City, and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg.

The development team skaters are Scott Bickerton of Nelson, B.C., Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que., Martin Corbett of Scarborough, Ont., William Dutton of Humbolt, Sask., Kate Hanly of Calgary, Kaylin Irvine of Calgary, Alec Janssens of Chilliwack, B.C., Leo Landry of Chelsea, Que., Richard MacLennan of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Lauren McGuire of Ottawa, Tamara Oudenaarden of St. Albert, Alta., Kyle Parrott of Minnedosa, Man., Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg, Philippe Riopel of Lachenaie, Que., Tori Spence of Kamloops, B.C., Brianne Tutt of Calgary, Stefan Waples of Winnipeg, Justin Warsylewicz of Regina, and Danielle Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta.