SSC rewards athletes & volunteers

Speed Skating Canada rewards athletes and volunteers
Awards Gala and 125th celebrations in Montreal

– Speed Skating Canada presented tonight its annual awards to athletes, coaches and volunteers at its Awards and 125th celebrations gala at the Delta Centre-Ville Hotel in Montreal. The organization holds its award ceremony each year during the course of its annual general meeting, celebrating the successes of the past season.

The dedicated work of volunteers was recognized at this 125th annual general meeting gala event. Other people recognized were:
- René Marleau Official of the Year was presented to Jacques Grégoire of Montreal.
- National team long track coach, Gregor Jelonek, was named Coach of Year.
- The Gagné Family Award went to the Daignault family of Montreal. The award is presented to a family who has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the sport of speed skating in Canada.

The recipients of the Peter Williamson Bursary, a bursary for promising skaters who best combine athletic and scholastic achievements, were short trackers François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, Que., and Valérie Lambert, Sherbrooke, Que., as well as long tracker skaters Laurent Dubreuil, Lévis, Que., and Brittany Schussler, Winnipeg.

The province of Quebec earned the Pat Underhill Shield as the top short track province at the various national events, and the Doreen Ryan Shield, as the top long track province at the various national events.

2014 World Short Track Championships: SSC also announced tonight that Saguenay, Que., was selected to play host to the 2014 World Short Track Championships, shortly after the Sochi 2014 Olympics. SSC will still need to receive approval from the International Skating Union. Quebec City, Montreal and Calgary also were in the running to host.

Skaters of the Year and Rising Stars

Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., claimed the Catriona Le May Doan Award for a second time in as many years. The 27-year-old dominated on the international stage once again this season, capturing 11 medals on the World Cup circuit and another eight at world championships. She was the world champion and World Cup champion in the 1,000 metres, world champion and World Cup champion in the 1,500 metres, the first-ever ladies Grand World Cup champion and world record holder in the 1,000 metres. In 15 international 1,000- and 1,500-metre races, Nesbitt won 13 times and was second in the other two.

Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., was received the Jeremy Wotherspoon Award as long track male skater of the year for a sixth time. The 26-year-old was world champion in the 1,500 metres and just missed stepping on the podium for the 1,000 metres at the World Single Distances Championships. Morrison won two silver medals and a bronze in World Cup action, and in 13 World Cup races he was in the top 10 for all but one. At the Canadian championships, he took silver medals in the 1,000 and 1,500 metres. He ranked first in Canada in the 1,000 and 1,500 metres.

Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., was named Short track Female skater of the Year. The 21-year-old placed second overall at the World Championships in March and was the 3,000-metre world champion. Maltais also took bronze in the 1,000 metres. In World Cups, she won a silver and bronze medal. At the Canadian Open Championships, Maltais ranked first overall, winning the 500, 1,000, and 3,000-metres races and taking silver in the 1,500 metres. She also finished the season ranked first in Canada.

Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., won the Marc Gagnon Award as short track male skater of the year. He was world champion and World Cup champion in the 500 metres. Jean, 28, was also on the relay team that took the world championship and world cup titles. He won four World Cup gold medals, two silver and a bronze. In 10 World Cup races, he competed in every final. He finished the season ranked second overall, and first in the 1,000 and 1,500-metre distances.

The long track rising star was awarded to Kali Christ of Regina. In her first senior speed skating season, the 20-year-old set personal bests in the 1,000 metres, 1,500 and 5,000. At the national level, she placed in the top 10 in each of her four races and won the bronze medal in the 1,500. At Canada Cup #1, she again ranked in the top 10 in all six of her distances and won two gold medals in the 1,000 metres, a silver in the 1,500 and bronze in the 5,000. On the international stage, Christ competed in her first three World Cups and World Cup final, as well as her first World Single Distances Championships. In five division B races at World Cups, she had four top 10 finishes, including two victories. At the end of the season, she ranked in the top 10 in Canada in the 1,000, 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 metres,

Receiving the Guy Daignault Award as short track rising star was Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que. In his first season on the development team, the 20-year-old took part in two World Cups. In his first race in Japan in December, he won a bronze medal in the 1,500 metres. Cournoyer then won a silver medal in the relay and took fourth place in the 500 metres the next week in China.

On Wednesday evening, at the president’s welcome reception, the following awards were presented:
- Officials award of excellence: Cynthia Onions of Whitehorse, and Mario Hardy of Laval, Que.
- Coaches award of excellence: George Donatelli of Mission, B.C., and Sabrina Lapointe of Quebec City.
- Jean R. Dupré Award (outstanding service as an administrator): Glenn Holmes of Stratford, P.E.I.
- SSC Certificates of merit: Stephen J. Arnold of Kingston, Ont., and Robert Bourassa of Montreal.