Former World Junior Champion Ben Donnelly, Seven Others Skate into Retirement
Audrey Phaneuf, Genève Bélanger among others hanging up the skates
OTTAWA, ONTARIO – Olympian and former world junior champion Ben Donnelly has officially announced his retirement from speed skating. He joins seven other national and development team members who have officially announced their respective retirements since the end of last season.
Donnelly (Oshawa, Ont.) won four medals and was crowned allround champion at the 2016 ISU World Junior Championships in Changchun, becoming just the second Canadian man to win that title. He won a pair of World Cup gold medals in Team Pursuit, as well as a bronze medal in that same discipline at the 2015 World Single Distance Championships. He still owns the Canadian record in the Team Pursuit (3:36.44), set in 2017 alongside Ted-Jan Bloemen and Denny Morrison.
NextGen long track skater Sam Deckert (Winnipeg, Man.) also announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season. A medalist at multiple Canada Cups throughout his career, the 25-year old was a member of the Canadian team at the inaugural ISU Four Continents Championships in Milwaukee this past winter, where he finished 11th in the 1000m.
On the short track side, six different national and development team skaters – Audrey Phaneuf, Genève Bélanger, Claudia Heeney, Mathieu Bernier, Sébastien Gagnon and Juliette Brindamour – are also hanging up their skates.
Phaneuf (Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.), a world championship silver medalist in the relay, has been a member of the national team program since 2014. She captured her lone individual World Cup medal, silver in the 500m, in Nagoya in 2015 and helped the women’s relay team win five medals between 2014 and 2016. The 24-year old also represented Canada four times at the ISU World Junior Championships, winning silver in the relay in 2014 and silver in the 500m in 2015, where she finished sixth overall.
A three-time Canadian junior champion and four-time World Junior Championship participant, Bélanger (Montréal, Que.) was a member of the national team since 2014. She won World Cup gold and bronze as a member of the women’s relay team during the 2014-2015 season. After four years away from the international circuit, she returned this past season to race in Nagoya and Shanghai.
Also calling it a career are Gagnon (Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Que.) and Bernier (Montréal, Que.), who both made their World Cup debuts this past season, skating alongside Bélanger at events in Nagoya and Shanghai. They are joined by a pair of recent World Junior Championship teammates in Heeney (Waterloo, Ont.), who won 1000m bronze in 2019, and Brindamour (Toronto, Ont.).
Arye Richards (Oshawa, Ont.) and Francis Dumouchel (Brossard, Que.), who were training partners with the women’s national team this past season, have also officially entered retirement.
“Speed Skating has brought me many opportunities inside and outside of sport and taken me to amazing places I otherwise would not have been able to go. It has brought me my dream of representing my country at the Olympics and standing atop the podium as Junior World Champion. What I will cherish most about this sport is the amazing people I have met and lifelong friends I have made along the way. I now look forward to the next chapter in my life and whatever it may hold.” – Ben Donnelly
Speed Skating Canada