National & Development Team Speed Skaters set to race at the Canadian Single Distances Championships

Canadian National Team speed skaters are returning to the Olympic Oval after their Christmas weekend to take part in the Canadian Single Distances Championships, Dec. 28 -31, 2006.

Canada’s most decorated Olympian, Cindy Klassen, will return to competition for the first time this season. She did not compete at the fall World Cup races, taking some extra time to train in Canmore, Alta.

The Canadian Single Distances Championships is an event for all qualified Canadian long track speed skaters to compete for spots on the winter World Cup circuit. Klassen will skate every distance to qualify for the upcoming World Cup events.

“I am excited to be competing again, especially here at the Olympic Oval and with all of my teammates,” says Klassen, 27, from Winnipeg, Man. “My training has been going really well and I’m looking forward to skating here and at the next World Cup races.”

Many National Team speed skaters are already prequalified to compete in several winter World Cups based on their results at World Cups in Europe and Asia in November and December, including Shannon Rempel, Christine Nesbitt, Kristina Groves and Denny Morrison. All won medals in the last four months, with Rempel winning her first ever World Cup medals, gold and bronze in the 1,000 metres.

“So far our speed skaters have had an incredible start to this post Olympic season,” says Jean R. Dupré, Director General, Speed Skating Canada. “We look forward to this week’s competition and some amazing performances from some of the world’s best speed skaters.”

More than 50 speed skaters are set to skate in the competition including all National and Development Team athletes and several developing athletes who posted qualifying times, set at the Olympic Oval Can Am International speed skating competition in November.

The Canadian Single Distances Championships starts at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 29 and at 10:00 a.m. on all other competition dates and finishes around 1:00 p.m. each day. Admission for the public is free.