Catriona Le May Doan Crowns First Annual Winner of the ING Speed Skating Challenge



    Lloydminster's Alastair Starke named Canada's Best Speed Skating Story

    CALGARY, March 17 /CNW/ - After five weeks and over 42,500 online votes
from across the country, the title of Canada's Best Speed Skating Story was
awarded to Alastair Starke representing the Lloydminster Border Blades Speed
Skating Club in Alberta at a gala evening hosted by Catriona Le May Doan.
    With over 50 members of Canada's national speed skating team in
attendance, including Guest Judges Kristina Groves and Olivier Jean, the ING
Video Awards Party was an opportunity to bring Canada's best speed skaters
together with Canada's best speed skating stories.
    "When we began the search for Canada's best speed skating story, the goal
was to provide young skaters from across the country with a voice - a way of
building a speed skating community by sharing their love for the sport. We saw
a lot of that tonight and throughout the ING Speed Skating Challenge," said
Catriona.
    With a grassroots campaign that included flyer distribution, media
interviews with local newspapers and radio stations, Alastair Starke's video
story represented a chance for the whole club and community to work together.
    Alastair's father Richard Starke, who also happens to be his coach, is
proud of his son's accomplishments but is particularly happy with the theme of
the story.
    "The ING Speed Skating Challenge has brought a sense of excitement and
enthusiasm for speed skating, both in our club and the entire community. As
Alastair's dad and his coach, I'm very proud that he has told a story that
isn't about him, but about our club and the love we all share for the sport of
speed skating," said Richard.
    Catriona Le May Doan also surprised guests with an award for her Most
Inspirational Story. For Catriona, it was an opportunity to single out one
story that touched her personally.
    "Like so many young Canadians, your family is your immediate support
system that gets you into your first pair of skates and inspires you to reach
your potential. Andrea Johnson's story - Like Grandmother. Like Granddaughter.
- really shows that speed skating is a sport passed down from
generation-to-generation that brings families closer together," added
Catriona.
    Joining Andrea Johnson was her grandmother May Johnson. The two accepted
the award for Catriona's Most Inspirational Story together.
    The final ING Speed Skating Challenge award winners are now online at:
SpeedSkatingNation.com.

    
    MEET THE AWARD WINNERS
    ----------------------
    Canada's Best Speed Skating Story: Alastair Starke
    -   Club: Lloydminster Border Blades Speed Skating Club, Alberta
    -   Story title: Durness Oval Story
    -   Alastair Starke's story sounds like a something right out of a
        Hollywood script. When the 17-year-old needed a place to train for
        the Alberta Games, he built an oval on a frozen slough on his
        family's farm just outside of Lloydminster, Alberta.

    Runner-up: Sarah Ali
    -   Club: Iqaluit Speed Skating Association, Nunavut
    -   Story title: Nunavut Pride
    -   16-year-old Sarah Ali has been speed skating for six years in her
        hometown of Iqaluit. She counts representing Nunavut at competitions
        as her skating highpoint, but also really wants to be a positive role
        model for younger skaters at her club.

    Catriona's Most Inspirational: Andrea Johnson
    -   Club: Winnipeg Speed Skating Club
    -   Story title: Like Grandmother. Like Granddaughter.
    -   Andrea Johnson's story is about following in her grandmother's
        footsteps. A talented young speed skater from Winnipeg that now
        trains at the Olympic Oval in Calgary recently won the same award for
        speed skating that her grandmother did in 1948.

    Media Interviews: Interviews are available upon request and video stories
are available in original format for editorial use.


    ING SPEED SKATING CHALLENGE PRIZES
    ----------------------------------
    Grand Prize: Canada's Best Speed Skating Story
    -   $5,000 donation from ING to the winner's speed skating club
    -   $1,500 gift certificate for new speed skates
    -   Timex Triathlon digital heart rate monitor
    -   Premium Hbc gift certificates
    -   iPod gift package
    -   Canon digital camera

    Second Prize: Runner-up
    -   $2,500 donation from ING to the runner-up's speed skating club
    -   Timex Triathlon digital heart rate monitor
    -   Premium Hbc gift certificates
    -   iPod gift package
    -   Canon digital camera

    Catriona's Most Inspirational
    -   $1,000 donation from ING to the speed skating club
    -   Timex Triathlon digital heart rate monitor
    -   Premium Hbc gift certificates
    -   iPod gift package
    -   Canon digital camera

    Additional prizes are awarded to the Top 16, 8 and 4 respectively.
    

    ING - PROUD SUPPORTER OF PERSONAL BESTS
    ---------------------------------------
    In 2006, ING Canada announced our Premier Partnership with Speed Skating
Canada, which involves a commitment to the sport for over the next six years.
With this support, we hope both to help elite athletes achieve their gold
medal dreams, and to further grow this sport in communities across the
country.
    For ING, this partnership represents a great fit as it ties into our
roots in The Netherlands, where speed skating originated, and it complements
other existing ING sponsorships in Canada, most notably the Calgary Olympic
Oval.
    "ING in Canada is dedicated to high performance - for our customers,
brokers, and employees," said Derek Iles, President of ING Insurance Company
of Canada. "By partnering with Speed Skating Canada, we hope to work together
to highlight and build on the performances and achievements of Canada's speed
skating champions and to bring the sport of speed skating to communities
across the country, where our customers and brokers work and live."
    We're proud of our involvement in both ING On The Edge, a program that
works with Speed Skating Canada to bring speed skating into elementary schools
and provide young people with skating instruction, and the ING Speed Skating
Challenge - the search for Canada's best speed skating story.
    As a national organization that operates in many communities across
Canada, we are always looking for a way to give back to those communities and
make a difference.

    ABOUT ING
    ---------
    ING Insurance is the largest auto, property and liability insurer in
Canada with a network of more than 2,800 independent insurance brokerages. It
is part of ING Canada (TSX: IIC), which provides insurance products to
individuals and businesses through ING Insurance and other subsidiaries.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: MEDIA CONTACTS: Russell Reimer, Partner, Agenda
Sport Marketing, (403) 585-8242, Russell@agendasport.ca; Maria MacAulay,
Communications Manager, ING Insurance Company of Canada, (403) 697-6833,
Maria.MacAulay@ingcanada.com

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