Speed Skating Canada celebrates successful year naming award winners for 2002-2003 season

Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg, Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., and Jean-François Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., were named Speed Skating Canada’s athletes of the year on Saturday at the association’s annual general meeting.

For the first time this year the winners of top female athlete in long track and and top male in short track receive the Catriona Le May Doan Award and Marc Gagnon Award respectively. These awards were renamed in recognition of the tremendous contribution the two multi-Olympic medallists made to speed skating in Canada.

In long track speed skating, Wotherspoon was named the male athlete of the year following another superb campaign. The 26-year-old lost only one 500-metre race all season. He won the world sprint title for the fourth time in five years, claimed his fifth 500 World Cup crown in six years and won the 500 world title.

Klassen earned the Catriona Le May Doan Award as the long track female athlete of the year as she established herself as the most complete speed skater in the world. The 23-year-old became the first Canadian woman in 27 years to win the all around world title. She also earned the 1,500-metre World Cup title with four wins in six races. She also made big noise in the shorter distances placing second overall at the world sprints and placing third in the 1,000 at the world championships.

In short track speed skating, Goulet-Nadon took the sport by storm and was named the female athlete of the year award. The 20-year-old, in only her second season on the national team, won the World Cup titles in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 metres this season. She added silver in the 500 at the world championships.

Monette won the Marc Gagnon Award as male athlete of the year in short track. The 24-year-old broke the world record it the men’s 1,000 metres and took the World Cup title in the 500. He also helped Canada to the world team title as well as a silver medal in the relay and bronze in the 1,000 at the world championships.

Other award winners were:

-Rod Johnston of Moose Jaw, Sask., was named coach of the year. He had two skaters on the world junior team and guided Saskatchewan to 12 medals in long track at the Canada Games.

-Gary Roberts of Abbotsford was named official of the year. Roberts is a chief timer based at the Matsqui Blades Speed Skating Club in Abbotsford.

-Roger Fradette of Chicoutimi, Que., was named the administrator of the year. Fradette is the president of the Fédération de patinage de vitesse du Québec and was co-president of the organizing committee for the ISU World Cup short track speed skating event held in Chicoutimi last February.

-The John Hurdis Award was won by Gregg Planert of Calgary. The award is given to a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to speed skating at the national level. Planert has been involved in the sport as a competitor, coach, administrator and technician since 1970.

-The recipients of the Peter Williamson Trust Fund, a bursary for promising skaters, were Mélanie Gagnon of Montreal, Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., Marilou Asselin of Ste-Foy, Que., and Jean-René Bélanger of Sherbrooke.

-The Gagné Family Award went to the MacLeod family of Fredericton. It is awarded to a family which has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the sport of speed skating. The MacLeods- David, Robert, Derrick, Elsie and Mary- are involved in the sport as athletes, coaches, administrators and officials.

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

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