Dartmouth Crossing Speed Skating Club Wins $10,000 Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award

Intact Insurance’s long-time contribution to grassroots speed skating initiatives surpasses $400,000 mark

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The Dartmouth Crossing Speed Skating Club are the proud winners of this year’s Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award. The Nova Scotia based club will receive a $10,000 grand prize to support a grassroots development project that aims to increase inclusion and diversity within their club, as well a visit from a pair of national team athletes during the 2021-2022 season.

Four additional speed skating clubs – the Speedy Kids Oval Program (Halifax, N.S.), Club de patinage de vitesse Les Loupiots (Rivière du Loup, Que.), Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club (Saskatoon, Sask.) and Vancouver Velocity Speed Skating Club (Vancouver, B.C.) – were named finalists for the annual award and will each take home a $2,500 cash prize to help finance their respective initiatives, which are detailed below.

Generously sponsored by Speed Skating Canada’s longstanding partner, Intact Insurance, the Club Excellence Award recognizes the contributions of local speed skating clubs to sport and community development and the importance of grassroots programs to high-performance success.

Dozens of clubs from across the country submitted project ideas, ranging from the purchase of new safety mats or skating equipment, to safe sport initiatives and open houses to increase awareness of the sport. Many of this year’s applicants also detailed how their initiative would help their club return to normal following a season filled with COVID-19 pandemic related challenges. Submissions were evaluated based on the need in the local community, the potential for positive impact, the plan and resources in place to roll out the project and the ability to measure its success.

Since 2010, Intact Insurance has donated a total of $400,000 to speed skating clubs through the former Podium Tracker program and current Club Excellence Award. The insurance provider further expanded their commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle through sport with a recently announced 10-year partnership agreement with the new Centre de glaces Intact Assurance in Quebec City, the largest centre dedicated to ice sports in North America and home to the Centre d’entraînement Gaétan-Boucher, a provincial and national speed skating training hub.

Winner ($10,000)

Dartmouth Crossing Speed Skating Club (Dartmouth, N.S.)

The priority for the Dartmouth Crossing Speed Skating Club is to increase inclusion within their club. There are three key pieces to their inclusion initiative: achieving gender equity in coaching and athlete participation; diversifying their membership by reaching out to families with limited financial resources and newcomers to Canada; and increasing participation opportunities for Special Olympics athletes through the introduction of Unified Sports programming. The club believes that the net must be cast wide to achieve true diversity and inclusion, as well as to find and develop the athletes who will become the future of the sport.

Finalists ($2,500)

Speedy Kids Oval Program (Halifax, N.S.)

The Speedy Kids Oval Program is rolling out a new initiative for skaters aged 10 and older who are interested in increasing their training workload and one day compete at national-level events. The off-ice element, “Learn to Train Off the Ice”, introduces skaters to off-season dryland training, which will then transition to an enhanced on-ice training program in the winter months. The club is hoping that this initiative will help them increase representation at the Canadian Youth Long Track Championships and hopefully result in having some of their skaters compete for the very first time at the Long Track Canada Cups or Canada Winter Games.

Club de patinage de vitesse Les Loupiots (Rivière du Loup, Que.)

Despite pandemic related challenges, the Club de patinage de vitesse Les Loupiots achieved the rare feat of skating non-stop from July to April. The club is looking to build on that momentum with a pair of major projects: the development of a long track program and the purchase of protective matting for the region’s new Olympic sized ice surface, for which the municipality has already committed $9.3 million in construction costs. The club hopes that putting in place more diverse programming – on both long track ice and proper short track ice – will help increase membership and skater retention, which is important for a club that often loses more talented athletes to larger cities where they can train more safely.

Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club (Saskatoon, Sask.)

The Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club is working in collaboration with local partners to implement a program that encourages youth to try speed skating for free at the newly upgraded Clarence Downey Oval, with the goal of increasing the sport’s visibility and growing their membership. The club will be purchasing long track skates and helmets, which will be loaned out to a variety of existing user groups, including elementary school students/classes using the facility in the afternoon and those participating in free public skating in the evenings. The club will also utilize the funding to buy maintenance equipment and safety mats to ensure those trying the sport for the first time can do so in a safe environment.

Vancouver Velocity Speed Skating Club (Vancouver, B.C.)

Velocity Speed Skating Club (VSSC) is the only speed skating club in Vancouver, a city with a population of 675,000 people. The club has embarked on an ambitious recruitment and awareness campaign, which includes an organizational rebranding, a new website and the creation of promotional assets and marketing materials. The primary focus of their recruitment initiative is on attracting female and master skaters. VSSC aims to be a model of inclusivity within their community, and this initiative will help them ensure a more diverse membership.

Quotes

  • “The Dartmouth Crossing Speed Skating Club would like to thank Intact Insurance for their support of our club and all the speed skating clubs that benefit from this award program. This award will help us to make our programs more inclusive. We will be able to provide development opportunities to female coaches so that girls in speed skating will have strong role models. We will be able to introduce the Unified Sport speed skating relay to Special Olympics athletes and Unified Sport partners in our province, and to invite neighbouring provinces to participate as well. And it will assist us in reaching out to our community to provide learn to skate and learn to speed skate opportunities to newcomers and young families who might otherwise not have that opportunity.” – Sheila McGinn, Dartmouth Crossing Speed Skating Club 
  • “Intact Insurance is proud to be a sponsor of Speed Skating Canada and see the direct impact this partnership has on local clubs across the country. Congratulations to this year’s grand prize winning Dartmouth Crossing Speed Skating Club, as well as the four other finalists from Halifax, Saskatoon, Vancouver and Rivière du Loup.” – Humberto Valencia, Vice President, Marketing, Customer Experience and Data Marketing, Intact Insurance
  • “The funding provided through this year’s Intact Insurance Club Excellence Award will go a long way toward helping these five clubs return to normal following a season filled with COVID-19 pandemic related challenges. We’re grateful for Intact Insurance’s ongoing support of Speed Skating Canada, which has helped elite athletes achieve their gold medal dreams, while also bolstering local speed skating clubs as they develop the next generation of Olympians and grow the sport’s popularity in communities across the country.” – Susan Auch, Chief Executive Officer, Speed Skating Canada