Klassen, Wotherspoon, Overland, Hamelin highlight Speed Skating Canada’s awards night

Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg, Jeremy Wotherspoon of Red Deer, Alta., Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., were named Speed Skating Canada’s 2005 athletes of the year.

Klassen was named the female skater of the year – long track. She won two gold medals at the world single distance championships in Inzell, Germany with victories in the 1,500 metres and 3,000 metres. She also won the World Cup title in the 1,500 with three victories in five races and was second overall at the all around world championships. She also broke the world record in the 1,500 in January and set a points world record as well at the event. Klassen also helped Canada to two world records in the team pursuit.

Wotherspoon won the male skater of the year- long track. He took the 500-metre World Cup title for the fourth straight year with four wins in 10 races. He finished second overall at the world sprint championships and won the bronze medal in the 500-metres at the world single distance championships.

Hamelin was named the top male skater- short track. He notched three individual victories in his first full season on the World Cup circuit. He won the silver medal in the 500 metres at the world championships and helped Canada to gold and a world record in the relay at the worlds in addition to the world team crown. He also lowered two national records at the Canadian team trials in November.

Overland won the female skater of the year award- short track. She enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2004-2005 with her first two individual World Cup medals and earned her first career Canadian overall title.

Other award winners were:

Guy Daignault Rising Star- short track was won by Kalyna Roberge of Levis, Que.,: Roberge won the 500 metres and placed third overall at the world junior championships in January

Rising Star – long track was won by Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont.,: Nesbitt earned spots on Canadian teams at World Cup events and at the world single distance championships. She also grabbed a silver in the 1,000 metre at the Canadian sprint championships.

Male Coach of the Year -Martin Gagné, Montreal: Gagné coached Canadian short track speed skaters to more than 30 medals on the World Cup circuit in addition to the gold medal and world record in the men’s relay at the world championships.

Female Coach of the Year – Xiuli Wang, Calgary: long track coach Wang guided Kristina Groves of Ottawa to her first career World Cup victory and a bronze at the world single distance championships in the 3,000 metres. She also coaches Clara Hughes of Winnipeg who notched a bronze at the single distance worlds and Arne Dankers of Calgary an impressive sixth in the 5,000 at the worlds.

Coaching Excellence Awards: recipients of this first-year award were Ron Cartier of Dawson Creek, B.C., Frédéric Déry of Laval, Que., and Barb Beck of Pitt Meadows, B.C.

Outstanding Administrator Award- Roger Buxton, Markham, Ont.: Buxton has been a driving force in helping the Markham Speed Skating Club prosper and grow since he became a club member in 1995 and joined the club’s executive five years ago.

Official of the Year Award- Jean Lemieux, Charlesbourg, Que: Lemieux officiated at all levels in short track speed skating this season including the Canadian age group championships in Surrey, B.C., and the Can-Am competition in Calgary.

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.

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 of Montreal and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal in short track and Mark Jesney of Saskatoon and Shannon Sibold of Calgary in long track.
The Gagné Family Award went to the Laberge family of Ste-Foy, Que. It is awarded to a family which has made an outstanding contribution to the development of the sport of speed skating. The Laberge’s –Marcel and Clémence and their four children Raymond (deceased), Diane, Pierre and France- joined the speed skating scene in 1971 and were active as athletes, administrators and officials.

The John Hurdis Award was won by André Lamothe of Montreal. The award is given to a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to speed skating at the national level. Lamothe was president of Speed Skating Canada from 1982 to 1988 and has been involved in the sport as an administrator since 1971.

The Jean Grenier Appreciation Award is presented to an individual that’s assisted Canadian speed skating outside clubs and branches. This year’s recipient was Dr. John McCall of Markdale, Ont. Dr. McCall was team physician at the Olympic Games in Albertville, Lillehammer and Nagano. He was also team physician for Speed Skating Canada at many other national and international events. He’s also been involved in the International Skating Union’s safety committees and coaching seminars.

Speed Skating Canada’s Hall of Fame inducted Debbie Fisher of Calgary. Fisher has been involved with the sport of speed skating since 1969, as a skater, coach, administrator, and builder, from the club to national level.
In 1998, she became a member of the Olympic Oval staff at the University of Calgary. In her capacity as team leader of the developmental programming area, she has conducted camps and/or coaching clinics throughout Canada which has enabled her to share her coaching knowledge and experience with athletes and coaches throughout Canada.

The Hall also recognized seven athletic accomplishments. They are as follows

-The women's short track speed skating championship in March with members, Overland, Roberge, Tania Vicent of Laval, Que., Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, BC and Chantale Sévigny of Montreal.

-The world record performance by the men’s relay in short track speed skating in March with members Hamelin, François-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., Steve Robillard of Montreal and Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que.

- the women’s long track team pursuit world record set this year by Klassen, Groves and Hughes.

- the men’s Olympic record time in the relay at the 2002 Games with Tremblay, Turcotte, Marc Gagnon and Jonathan Guilmette, both of Montreal.

- the 2002 women’s Olympic relay which won bronze comprised of Tania Vicent and Isabelle Charest, both of Montreal, Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., and Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que.

- The 1,000-metre bronze medal won by Turcotte at the 2002 Games.

- the gold and silver medals won by Marc Gagnon and Jonathan Guilmette respectively in the 500 metres at the 2002 Olympics