Oval coached Kali Christ will be among the four Canadian participants in this weekend's ISU World Allround Championships at the Olympic Oval PHOTO: Arno Hoogveld
48 of the best long track speed skaters in the world have arrived in Calgary to take part in the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships this weekend (March 7-8, 2015). The Canadian team will have four representatives competing, all of whom will enjoy a “Home Ice” advantage after training at the Oval this past season. The Canadian contingent is made up of Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.), Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON), Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, Alb.) and Kali Christ (Regina, Sask.). Christ is a Canadian national team member and a 2014 Olympian who trains under Oval Program Coach Todd McClements. Christ will be competing in her third World Allround and placed 10th this season at a World Cup event in Heerenveen.
The World Allround Speed Skating Championships are a unique event in which participants are able to compete in all races at four different distances. (Men – 500m, 1500m, 5000m & 10000m; Ladies – 500m, 1500m, 3000m, 5000m) Using a sammelog system each of the racer’s results will then be converted into a number of points based on their total times divided by 500m. Following the first three distances the top eight from the Mens and Ladies divisions will participate in the 10000m & 5000m races. The Mens and Ladies skaters with the lowest number of points after all four distances will be declared the World Allround Speed Skating Champions for 2015.
This year’s World Allround Championship will be highly contested and the field includes several of the World’s best skaters. 28 year-old Sven Kramer of the Netherlands is a six-time World Allround Champion who chose to miss last year’s competition in to prepare for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Kramer is the 2010 & 2014 Olympic Champion in the 5000m and the current World record holder in the 5000m & 10000m distances. He will go head to head this weekend with teammate and reigning 2014 World Allround Champion Koen Verweji.
For the Ladies, Ireen Wust of the Netherlands enters this year as a five time World Allround Champion and the winner of the last four Ladies World Allround Championships (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). At the 2011 competition at the Calgary Olympic Oval, Wust was able to edge out Canadian Christine Nesbitt in the overall standings with 157.313 points. Wust is also a four time Olympic gold medallist (Turin 2006 - 3000m, Vancouver 2010 – 1500m, Sochi 2014 – 3000m & Team Pursuit) and one of the most decorated women’s speed skaters in the world today. Also competing will be two-time women’s Allround champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic and former champion Claudia Pechstein of Germany.
This year’s event will mark the 109th World Allround Championships and is the fifth time the Calgary Olympic Oval will play host to the event. (1990, 1992, 2006, 2011, 2015) All the action kicks off on Saturday morning (March 7, 2015) with the Opening Ceremony at 11:45 am – followed by the Ladies & Mens 500m competitions at noon.
Saturday’s competition will also include a special presentation to the University of Calgary’s own Gilmore Junio at 1PM. Junio will be honoured for his well-publicized selfless act at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Canadian national team coach Bart Schouten (Morrison’s coach) will also be honoured during a break in competition on Sunday, March 8, with a 2015 Petro Canada Coaching Excellence Award.
Tickets for the event are available at: www.speedsk8.ca
Live results during the competition will be available at the following website: http://live.isuresults.eu/2014-2015/calgary