Philippe Riopel retires from speed skating

Calgary, December 22, 2015 – Long track speed skater Philippe Riopel from Lachenaie, QC, a member of the National or Development Team from 2006 to 2015, announces his retirement from competitive sport.

The 27 year-old athlete still holds the National Junior record in the 1000m, which he set in 2008 at the Olympic Oval in Calgary with a time of 1:08.56. He has competed in a total of 23 World Cups, three World Junior Championships and one World Single Distance Championship. He excelled in the middle distances, with his best finish being a ninth-place result in the 1000m at the 2011 Moscow World Cup.

“I have had a tough past couple years and I’ve been going back and forth with my decision. But now, I want to commit to a decision. I took time off this summer to help me make up my mind and when I came back to skating I still really enjoyed it, but my heart wasn’t in it one hundred percent. It is the best decision for me right now because there are other things on my mind that I want to do,” explained Philippe Riopel.

“This sport has allowed me to wear the maple leaf with pride all over the world. I was able to see places I would've only dreamed of and developed friendships with people all around the globe. I'm truly thankful for the crazy ride it has taken me on and I will do my best to pay it forward to the amazing speed skating community”, he added.

World Junior Championships medalist
Philippe Riopel began his career training in short track in Montreal. In 2006, at the age of 18, Riopel moved to Calgary in order to train full time in long track speed skating at the Olympic Oval. The following season, at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, Riopel won the silver medal in the 500m and was 4th overall. The following year, he won the gold medal in the 500m.

“The 2010-2011 season was my best memory from skating. I trained in South Korea for five weeks over the summer and was immersed in a foreign culture and a training environment. That year was my greatest international success. I competed in the World Single Distance Championships in Inzell, Germany, and placed 10th in the 1000m. To this day, that was my best performance and the one race I was so happy about. I can even still remember how it felt. It was also a bonus that it was a really fun season travelling with some great friends and teammates,” recalls Riopel.

Through his years on the National and Development teams, Riopel worked with several coaches. “I want to thank all of them, Gregor Jelonek, Todd McClements, Neal Marshall, Marcel Lacroix, Xiuli Wang and Bart Schouten, in helping me to become the skater that I am. There are also so many people who deserved to be thanked, from when I was just starting to now, that it is too difficult to name them all, but I am very grateful to all those who helped me along the way,” says Riopel.

“Phil has always had an outstanding attitude and approached his training with professionalism”, explains Todd McClements, Olympic Oval and Speed Skating Canada’s National Team Coach, who book-ended Riopel’s years training in Calgary. “He was a great teammate, leading not only by example, but also working with other skaters to share his knowledge. He will be missed by his teammates.”

“Phil always brought his A-game during training and competing”, says Marcel Lacroix, who is now Associate Director High Performance Programs Long Track at Calgary's Olympic Oval. “I have no doubt that he will be successful because he is professional and has the right attitude. His daily demeanor in sports will be a valuable asset moving forward.”

New ventures
With a passion for sport, Philippe Riopel is exploring some great new opportunities in marketing in this area. He will also continue to be involved with the Calgary Cycling Center and manage the Calgary velodrome cycling track which consists in some coaching, handling introduction sessions, running competitions and training sessions and even bike maintenance.

“Sport has given me a lot and it remains my passion, so I will be doing some coaching at the oval and trying to balance that with school and work, as I pursue a degree that will eventually be business marketing focused.”

More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca.

About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for competitive long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, the association is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial branches representing more than 14,000 individual members, and counting. SSC believes that sport is an apprenticeship for life and prizes respect for others, integrity, excellence of effort, as well as a safe, healthy environment. SSC recognizes and values its outstanding volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise. It also celebrates the 63 Olympic medals won by Canadian athletes since 1932, as well as the coaches, officials and other dedicated individuals who helped them on their journey.

SSC is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values including our premium sponsors Intact Insurance, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC

Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-589-8960
Website: www.speedskating.ca   
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC  
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC