CALGARY, AB – The preparations are complete and the Canadian Junior Long Track national team is finally set to kick off the 2015 World Junior Championships this weekend (Feb. 20-22) in Warsaw, Poland. The eight person team will be led by Oval coached Canadian Junior Champion Ben Donnelly and junior standout Isabelle Weidemann. Weidemann was the top Canadian at the Junior World Cup Final last weekend with a bronze medal in the 3000m event. The 19 year old was also fourth in the 1500m, as was Canada men's team pursuit trio of Donnelly, Alexandre Déry and Christopher Fiola.
Weidemann remains one of the one of the brightest young stars in Canadian speed skating. Coached by Oval program coach and Canadian Junior Team Lead Crispin Parkinson, the native of Ottawa is set to return to World Juniors after withdrawing from last year’s competition due to injury. Weidemann is the 2013 and 2014 Canadian Junior Champion but did not compete in the 2015 Canadian Junior Championships as her performance this season prequalified her for the 2015 World Juniors. She instead earned the opportunity to compete for Canada at her first Senior World Cup event in Hamar, Norway just over two weeks ago.
“It’s a neat experience this season as one of the oldest on the junior team and youngest on the senior team. I get to play both roles as one of the ‘veterans’ and then going to a senior world cup and getting that experience as a rookie.” said Weidemann prior to her departure for Poland “Norway was great, I learned a lot from the older guys on the national team and I think I can bring what Iearned to help the junior team too. Guys like Denny Morrison who I didn’t really know before the competition - he was really awesome at helping me prepare, he’s a great teammate.”
Donnelly, captured the 2015 Canadian Junior title in Quebec City, QC at the end of January. The 18-year old native of Oshawa, ON is coached by Oval Program coach Todd McClements and will make his third World Junior Championship appearance wearing the red and white.
"I think my previous experience at World Juniors just makes me more comfortable with the competition, I know the people involved and that familiarity is going to help me” said Donnelly “Anytime you get the chance to wear a maple leaf it’s awesome. It always feels good to be representing your country – you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot and I think it always helps push you just a little further”
Donnelly will be joined by three other male skaters including Dery (QC), Fiola (QC) and Calgary native Alex Ruel-Garvey (AB). Weidemann joins a women’s side which also includes newly crowned Canadian Junior Women’s Champion Noemie Fiset (QC), Maddison Pearman (AB) and Juliette Wheler (SK).
The Canadian team will aim to win a first medal in this annual competition since 2012. In Obihiro, Japan, Laurent Dubreuil won the gold medal in the 1000m and the bronze medal in the 500m while clocking a new world record in this junior event with a time of 34.66 seconds. In 43 editions of the ISU World Junior Long Track Championships, Canada won 22 medals including five gold, eight silver and nine bronze.
More information, including links to the full schedule, results and webcast, can be found through Speed Skating Canada’s website: http://www.speedskating.ca/events/world-junior-championships