This article was originally published on the Speed Skating Canada website.
– National team speed skater Gilmore Junio to be honoured for 2014 Olympic contribution –
Four-time Olympic medalist Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C, multi World Cup medalist Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, Ont., Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, Alta., and Kali Christ of Regina, Sask., will battle the world's best for the 2015 ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships, March 7-8, at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.
The championships will feature 24 male and 24 female skaters. All competitors will compete in the 500m, 1500m, 3000m (women) and 5000m (men). The top eight after those three events will participate in the 5000m (women) and 10 000m (men) Sunday afternoon to determine the world champion.
The field includes Dutch stars Sven Kramer and Ireen Wust. Kramer is vying for his seventh world allround title, which would put him one win behind Gunda Niemann of Germany, who won eight titles in the 1990s.
Wust, meanwhile, will be attempting to win her fifth straight world allround title, which would tie her with Niemann for most consecutive victories.
Also competing are two-time women’s champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic and former champion Claudia Pechstein of Germany. On the men’s side, the field includes 2014 champion Koen Verweij of the Netherlands and 2014 bronze medalist Denis Yuskov of Russia.
Morrison is competing in his fifth World allround championships. He has finished in the top 10 each of the four previous occasions.
“My objective for this year's World allround competition is simply to skate as well as I feel I am currently capable of, on my home ice,” he said.
“Right now, that could translate into personal bests in more than one race.”
Bloemen will be competing in his first World allround for Canada and third overall. He moved to Calgary in the summer of 2014 from his home country in the Netherlands, where he was fourth at the 2010 competition in Heerenveen.
“For me growing up it was always the biggest tournament of the year and I still have that feeling,” he said.
Blondin is having a breakthrough season on the international scene. She has six World Cup medals so far this season and won a silver medal in mass start at the recent World Single Distance Championships.
“My personal objectives for this upcoming weekend is to qualify for the 5000m final event held on Sunday,” she said.
“Only the top 8 women after the 500m, 1500m and 3000m combined get to skate the 5000m. I am extremely excited and am looking forward to having a great home crowd behind us through the tough grit of the "WAR" Championships.”
Christ will be competing in her third World Allround and placed 10th in 2014 in Heerenveen.
“I'm really excited to be racing a world championships on home soil, not to mention the fastest ice in the world,” she said. “I can't wait to see some of the times that will be posted next weekend, it should be a lot of fun.”
The championships begin at noon on Saturday, March 7 and 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 8.
Canadian athletes have won four gold, five silver and five bronze in the past, all won by women. Five of those medals were captured by Winnipeg’s Cindy Klassen, who won world titles in 2003 and 2006. She also has two silver and a bronze.
Kristina Groves, now retired, won two silver and two bronze during her career and Christine Nesbitt has one silver and a bronze.
A tribute to Gilmore Junio and honour for coach Bart Schouten
The weekend will also feature a tribute to Speed Skating Canada national team sprinter Gilmore Junio of Calgary at 1 p.m. on Saturday. He will be honoured for his selfless act at the 2014 Winter Olympics, where he gave up his spot in the men’s 1000m race to teammate Morrison, who took that spot and turned it into a silver medal.
A special ceremony recognizing Junio’s act will be held during a break in the competition on Saturday, March 8.
Canadian national team coach Bart Schouten will also be honoured during a break in competition on Sunday, March 8, with a 2015 Petro Canada Coaching Excellence Award.
These prestigious awards recognize coaches whose athletes have excelled at world championships or at Olympic and Paralympic Games. Schouten coaches Denny Morrison, who won two medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Tickets are available online at http://www.speedsk8.ca/tickets.html.
Saturday’s competitions will be broadcast on CBC and www.cbcsports.ca starting at 5 pm (Eastern Time). Sunday, competitions will be on CBC at 5 pm and on cbcsports.ca at 4 pm.
Saturday, March 7
Tribute to Gilmore Junio
Sunday, March 8
Men’s 10 000m
(To be followed by medal ceremonies and victory lap)
More information can be found on Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.