Wotherspoon, Hughes, Guilmette & Vicent named Canada’s speed skaters of the year

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., Clara Hughes of Glen Sutton, Que., and Jonathan Guilmette and Tania Vicent, both of Montreal, were named Canada’s speed skaters of the year Saturday at Speed Skating Canada’s annual general meeting.

In long track, Wotherspoon received the male athlete of the year award. He won the World Cup and world championship title in the 500-metres and also lowered the world outdoor mark for the distance this past winter. In addition he became the most successful male speed skater in World Cup history surpassing the 50 career win plateau.

Hughes received the Catriona Le May Doan Award as top female in long track. Hughes capped a solid season with the world title in the 5,000 metres, her first world crown in either cycling or speed skating.

In short track, Guilmette took the Marc Gagnon Award as male athlete of the year. Guilmette won the silver medal in the 1,500 at the world championships and helped Canada to silver at the team worlds. He also placed first in the world team trials standings.

Vicent was named the top female short track speed skater. She earned her first Canadian title this past season winning three of the four races.

Other award winners were:

- Marcel Lacroix of Calgary, was named male coach of the year. He had six skaters on the world junior team, including 2004 World Junior champion, Justin Warsylewicz and 2003 World Junior Champion, Shannon Rempel.

- Ariane Loignon of St-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., was named female coach of the year. She had two skaters selected the world junior short track team. Both have also been named to the national development team for 2004-2005.

- Ellie Hildebrandt of Calgary was named official of the year. Hildebrandt is a Level 3 recorder and results processor who has been involved with the sport since 1987. She has worked at every speed skating competitions at the Olympic Oval in the past 17 years.

-Dany Lemay of Montreal was named the administrator of the year. Lemay is been a member of the Fédération de patinage de vitesse du Québec (FPVQ) and is also the chair of the FPVQ committee reviewing the competition structure within the province of Quebec.

-The John Hurdis Award was won by Ted Houghton of Abbotsford, B.C. The award is given to a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to speed skating at the national level. Houghton, a past president of Speed Skating Canada, has been involved in the sport as an administrator and official at the club, provincial, national and international level for over 20 years.

-The recipients of the Peter Williamson Trust Fund, a bursary for promising skaters who best combine athletic and scholastic achievements, were short trackers Mathieu Giroux and Émilie Nadeau-Benoit of Montreal.

-The Gagné Family Award went to the Thobo-Carlsen family of Fort St. James, B.C. It is awarded to a family which has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the sport of speed skating. The Thobo-Carlsen’s – John and Sheila, as well as their children Paul, Anne and Jennifer – have been involved in the sport since 1976 as athletes, coaches, administrators and officials.

Quebec earned the Pat Underhill Shield and Manitoba the Doreen Ryan Shield as the top short track and long track provinces respectively at national events.

Speed Skating Canada’s Hall of Fame added six new members to its ranks. The five athletes inducted were long track speed skaters Mike Ireland of Winnipeg, the world sprint champion in 2001; Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg, the world all around champion in 2003 and an Olympic bronze medallist in the 3,000 metres in 2002; Hughes, an Olympic bronze medallist in the 5,000 in 2002; Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg, the 2003 world junior champion and Justin Warsylewicz of Regina, the 2004 world junior champion.

Jacques Thibault of Calgary, was inducted in the builder category for his long-term involvement and contribution to the general development of speed skating in Canada.

The athletes received automatic induction based on their athletic accomplishments at world championships and Olympic Games.

Speed Skating Canada is the national governing body responsible for the advancement and growth of speed skating in Canada.