Jan. 11, 2019
Five years ago this week: Oval sends 17 athletes to 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Teammates Gilmore Junio and Denny Morrison win Canadians' hearts in Sochi
Editor's note: Olympic anticipation and excitement were growing across Canada on Jan. 10, 2014, when Speed Skating Canada announced the members of the long track speedskating team at the University of Calgary Oval. As things turned out, two of the athletes in these photos went on to star in one of the most sensational moments at the Sochi Games for Canada. Faculty of Kinesiology undergrad Gilmore Junio unselfishly gave up his spot on the team so that Denny Morrison, a consistent medal threat, could compete in his place. Morrison won a silver medal for Canada in a storybook 1,000-metre race and he later became one of Canada's most decorated long track speed skaters. Meanwhile, Junio continues to compete on the World Cup circuit.
At the Olympic Oval today, Speed Skating Canada announced the 17 long track speedskaters who will represent Canada at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
The nine women on the Canadian Olympic Speed Skating Team are: Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, Anastasia Bucsis of Calgary, Kali Christ of Regina, Marsha Hudey of White City, Sask., Kaylin Irvine of Calgary, Christine Nesbitt of London, Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg, Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, and Danielle Wotherspoon-Gregg of Red Deer.
The eight men: Vincent De Haître of Cumberland, Ont., William Dutton of Humboldt, Sask., Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., Jamie Gregg of Edmonton, Gilmore Junio of Calgary, Lucas Makowsky of Regina, Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., and Muncef Ouardi of Quebec City.
While the skaters come from across Canada, most consider the University of Calgary’s Olympic Oval as their “home,” having come here for the coaching, athlete support services, expertise, and, of course, the world’s fastest ice. Mathieu Giroux, who will compete in the gruelling 5000m and 1,500m events, is a pharmacy student at the University of Montreal, but feels fortunate to be training at the University of Calgary, “It’s a great place to train because everything is connected, and all the services are here. I actually wish I had studied here because it’s so easy. We have the Oval, the coaching, the Canadian Sport Institute, Fuel for Gold, all the services and the Human Performance Lab, it’s so easy, and it’s just such a great facility.”
Most of Canada’s Sochi team have taken University of Calgary courses at some point during their skating career, and a handful of athletes like 2010 gold medalist Lucas Makowsky (engineering/economics) and Marsha Hudey (medicine) have completed their degrees and will graduate this spring. “I found that skating and school actually provided a pretty good balance in my life,” says Hudey. “I’ve mostly been training full-time and taking classes part-time and been able to make it work. If I was travelling around to Canada Cups during our season the teachers were pretty understanding if I had to miss a class here or there, but I had to make it work, and it was fine.”
This group of long track skaters now joins their short track teammates as Canada’s Speed Skating Team is now complete.
“I feel privileged being named to my third Olympic team, each of which has been completely different for me,” said Christine Nesbitt, two-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medallist. “It was a thrill and a true honour to share the podium with my teammates Clara, Cindy, Kristina and Shannon. I have trained hard for the past four years and there certainly have been some ups and downs. I am very much looking forward to Sochi, and feel well prepared and supported by my coach Xiuli Wang and by the entire Speed Skating Canada team.”
Added Marcel Aubut, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee: “Canada has a tremendous speedskating history and today’s nominated long track athletes have the honour of carrying this legacy further.”
Ian Moss, CEO of Speed Skating Canada, spoke about the network of support behind the athletes. “This will be a day to remember for all our athletes and coaches. They are supported by families and friends and guided by excellent coaches and other professionals, and helped along the way by volunteers and sponsors.
“There is a lot more work to be done at the Games, but I want to congratulate every single athlete and coach for being named to Team Canada,” said Moss. ”We are extremely proud of you.”
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will take place Feb. 7-23, 2014. The Canadian Olympic Team has set a goal to contend to be the top nation in overall medals won.