Speed Skating Canada Rewards Deserving Athletes & Volunteers

This year’s most deserving athletes and volunteers were recognized by Speed Skating Canada at tonight’s Annual General Meeting Banquet in Richmond, British Columbia. The banquet is held yearly to celebrate the successes of the past season and thank those who made a difference To the Relentless Pursuit of Excellence, from coast to coast to coast.

National Team members Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC), Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) and Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) were all named Skaters of the Year, respectively for Short Track and Long Track, Male and Female. Hamelin is the current 500m World Champion in the 500m, he was nominated to the short track Olympic team because of his third place overall at the World Championships, and he won 8 individual medals on the World Cup Circuit this past season. He also established a new World Record in the 1000m and captured, with his teammates, the World Cup title in the Relay. Gregg had her best ever season on the international scene, winning her first individual World Cup gold medal in February. She also won her first World Championships medal, a bronze in the 500m, and took the 6th place overall at the event.

In long track speed skating, Denny Morrison and Kristina Groves both had amazing seasons once again. Even with a slower start due to equipment changes, Morrison capped off his season with one silver and one bronze medal at the World Single Distance Championships on the Olympic ice in Richmond. He also took the 5th place at the World Allround Championships and was 2nd in the 1000m World Cup rankings. Groves captured no less than 11 medals on the 08-09 World Cup circuit. She took the Overall World Cup Title in the 1500m, finished 2nd in the 1000m and 3rd in the 3000m. She also was a silver medallist at the World Allround Championships and captured two individual bronze medals at the World Single Distance Championships as well as the gold medal with her pursuit team.

Two rising stars were also recognized at the event. Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) is coming off her first year on the National Short Track Team. She was crowned World Junior Champion in the 500m, establishing a new World Record in the distance and taking 4th place overall at the World Junior Championships. She also won her first individual World Cup medal at the Pacific Coliseum last Fall, a silver in the 500m.

Richard MacLennan (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) is a very promising athlete on the Long Track side. He won a silver medal in the 500m at the World Junior Championships, where he also finished 6th in the 1000m. He is the Canadian Junior Champion and won a handful of medals at various Canada Cup events and at the North American Championships.

The dedicated work of many volunteers was also recognized at this 122nd SSC AGM Banquet. Other people recognized were:

Female Coach of the Year – Xiuli Wang, Calgary: Under her leadership, Kristina Groves had another amazing season. Shannon Rempel and Clara Hughes, all coached by Xiuli, also had good results this year, and Wang helped coach the women’s pursuit team who was crowned World Champion. A seven-year National Team Coach, she brings discipline and commitment to the athletes and empowers them to believe in themselves.

Male Coach of the Year – Sébastien Cros, Montréal: Sébastien was coaching the women’s short track development team through the season, including Rising Star Marianne St-Gelais. He also coached Valérie Maltais to a third place finish at the Canadian Championships, allowing the young skater to qualify for the World Championships. Many of Cros’ athletes, despite being on the development team, qualified for World Cups and other international events.

Coaching Excellence Awards: recipients of the award this year were Keith Gordon and Karen MacLaren of British Columbia and Stan Barnett of New Brunswick.

Outstanding Administrator Award – Pascal Archambault, Québec: He was the President of the Comité Organisateur d’Événements Montréal since he helped found the committee in 2002. He has been in charge of organizing numerous provincial, national and international short track speed skating events in Montreal over the years.

René Marleau Official of the Year Award – Terri Dixon, Nova Scotia: She has been an exceptional resource for clubs in New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia for many years, helping to train volunteer officials and make the transition to the new meet manager software. This past season, she officiated at every single speed skating competition organized in Atlantic Canada.

Officials Excellence Awards – new this year, two officials were recognized for their work with the development of officials. Darlene Chapman of BC and Ghislaine Roy of Québec are the first recipients of this award.

The Gagné Family Award went to the Terstappen family of Alberta. It is awarded to a family that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the sport of speed skating. The Terstappen – Hans, Ellen, Paul, Vince and Mark, have all been involved in the sport in various capacity for numerous years, and their tremendous contribution to our sport is to be commended.

The province of Québec earned the Pat Underhill Shield as the top short track province at the various national events, while Saskatchewan was awarded the Doreen Ryan Shield, as the top long track province at the various national events.

The recipients of the Peter Williamson Bursary, a bursary for promising skaters who best combine athletic and scholastic achievements, were short trackers Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (Sherbrooke, QC) and Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC), as well as long track skater Vincent Labrie (St-Romuald, QC).