Canada's Christine Nesbitt catches her breath next to Netherland's
Margot Boer after winning the women's 1000m race of the ISU
Speedskating World Cup. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)
It's a sport taken for granted.
Of all the icy disciplines it's the most traditional and also guaranteed to deliver medal success when the Olympics roll around.
Speed skating is bred in the bone in Canada.
This weekend long trackers will hunt for the World Single Distance Championships on the oval at Inzell, Germany.
For the first time, Inzell will have a roof overhead, which will detract from the allure of the place. But the newly minted indoor track will ensure that the best of the best claim the crown without Mother Nature throwing a wrench in the works.
The Canadian to watch is Christine Nesbitt
of London, Ontario. For the past two seasons and more the 1,000-metre Olympic gold medallist has dominated the middle distances. This year she's done it again in spite of an off-season cycling accident severely injuring one of her arms.
Nesbitt joins a long line of Canadian greats that includes Catriona Le May Doan, Cindy Klassen, Kristina Groves and Clara Hughes. In spite of all her successes, Nesbitt still bears the brunt of an expectant nation that believes winning most of the time isn't good enough.
That's the burden for Nesbitt: She's supposed to win every time out.
In the all-round world championships
at Calgary she came close to the top of the podium, a heroic effort for a skater not used to going the distance.
In Sheffield, England the short-trackers are also racing for world titles this weekend. This rock and roll, roller derby on ice is an ultra-Canadian thing and since the 1992 Games in Albertville, when it became a full medal sport, Canadian athletes have produced 25 Olympic medals.
Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin will lead the charge in the UK as they did in Vancouver and there will be plenty of spills and thrills and more than a little controversy. Such is the nature of short-track speed skating where athletes achieve such high velocity in extremely tight confines.
Steve Armitage will call every race for CBC
... the timeless voice. He'll deliver the goods ... excitement and drama.
Just like the athletes who have produced 22 of the 50 medals won by Canadians at the Torino and Vancouver Olympics combined.
All of which makes Canada the first nation of speed skating and that's something to be proud of.
Back to accessibility links