After making an announcement in The Netherlands on March 13th, Jeremy Wotherspoon, Canada’s greatest male speed skater of all time, has made his retirement official today in Calgary.
Wotherspoon had mentioned many times that he would likely end his career following this year’s Olympic Winter Games, his fourth. The day after the Closing Ceremony he went to Europe with many of his teammates in order to finish the season and his career in Heerenveen (the Netherlands), where speed skating is their most celebrated winter sport. Fate would have it otherwise, and a staphylococcus A. infection suffered by Wotherspoon in the weeks leading up to the event prevented him from competing and put an early end to his illustrious career.
Now back home in Calgary, Wotherspoon took time today to meet with the media who followed him during his 15 years on Canada’s national long track team. He explained that “making the decision to retire was not easy, and it will still take a while to be comfortable with it”.
“I thought about it for a long time and I’m still thinking about it. I’m definitely going to miss getting up and going to the Oval every day, training and traveling around the world with my teammates. Speed skating has been a part of my life for so long, that I don’t see myself letting it go completely. I definitely want to stay involved somehow.”
With 67 World Cup victories and many more podium finishes in his career, he is the most decorated speed skater in history by a very big margin. Wotherspoon has been world sprint champion four times, won the World Cup title in the 500 metres in seven occasions, and the 1000 metres during five seasons.
“It is with a lot of emotion that I’m here to say goodbye to Jeremy, who has been such a great ambassador of our sport for many years now,” said Speed Skating Canada Board Member Susan Auch, who is also a former teammate of Jeremy’s. “Jeremy has been an inspiration for young kids in Canada and around the world for almost two decades, and countless people were inspired by him to try speed skating. Thank you for all the good times Jeremy, for the many years you devoted to our sport and for all the memories you have built with and for us.”
In recognition of Wotherspoon’s long speed skating career and undeniable talent, Speed Skating Canada has decided to name its Long Track Skater of the Year Award the Jeremy Wotherspoon Award from this year on. Wotherspoon was presented with the first version of the trophy with his name at the announcement today.
“With all that Jeremy has done for our sport over the years, we wanted to make sure that his name lives on long after his retirement from speed skating,” said Jean R. Dupré, SSC’s Director General. “Our Long Track Male Athlete of the Year Award did not have a name, and it was only fitting that it is named after the skater who has received it the most in speed skating history.” Wotherspoon has received the award nine time during his career.
Wotherspoon has agreed to become the head sprint coach at the new International Speed Skating Acadamy that is currently being developed by sportnavigator.nl in Inzell, Germany. The Institute is set to open at the end of next season, at which point Wotherspoon would move to Inzell to start with his new position. For now, he is looking into various opportunities to coach and stay involved with speed skating.
“I definitely wanted to stay involved in the sport,” concluded Wotherspoon. “I want to be able to give back all the things I have learnt during my career and to help with the development of speed skating in the future.”