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OTTAWA, ONTARIO – Speed Skating Canada is proud to announce that national team short track skater Renée Steenge and long track skater David La Rue were selected as this year’s recipients of the Peter Williamson Memorial Bursary, an annual award given to promising skaters who best combine athletic and scholastic achievements.

Since its establishment in 1992, the prestigeous Peter Williamson Memorial Bursary – named in honour of the 1968 Olympian who held coaching and technical roles with both Speed Skating Manitoba and Speed Skating Canada – has supported the educational pursuits of over 70 national team athletes, many of whom have gone on to represent Canada on the World Cup circuit and at the Olympic Games.

“On behalf of the Williamson-Derraugh family, we are pleased to congratulate this year’s winners, Renée and David, on their outstanding athletic and scholastic achievements. They have shown tremendous work ethic on and off the ice and are incredible role models to our developing skaters. Thank you again to Speed Skating Canada for continuing to honour our father’s legacy with such a meaningful award.”Elizabeth Williamson Derraugh

Each year, dozens of student-athletes are evaluated on their combination of athletic and scholastic achievements; commitment to balancing training and schoolwork; ability to communicate well with coaches, teammates and classmates; and ability to demonstrate leadership qualities both on and off the ice. A pair of 24-year-old skaters with ambitious educational goals rose to the top of this year’s crop of applicants to secure their well-deserved bursaries.

Renée Steenge

Renée Steenge is currently enrolled at McGill University in Montreal, where she is working towards completing a Bachelor of Engineering degree specializing in Civil Engineering. The Brampton native may look to complete a Master of Engineering before embarking on a career as a Geotechnical Engineer, where she wants to work on analyzing soils and foundations for buildings. 

After two seasons as a NextGen training partner, Steenge broke th

rough this past fall to finish third overall at the 2022 Canadian Short Track Championships and secure her spot on the Canadian team. The 24-year-old was an integral member of both the mixed gender and women’s relay teams during her first season on the international stage, reaching the World Cup podium seven times (two gold, five silver) and capturing silver and bronze at the Four Continents Championships. She also qualified for the first World Championships of her career, where she helped Canada win bronze in the 3,000m women’s relay. In individual distances, Steenge earned five top-10 results, including a career-best seventh-place finish in the 1000m in Dresden.

“It means a lot of be a recipient of this bursary. School has always been a huge part of my life; it is something I was brought up to value and continue to value. Since elementary school, my education has always been paired alongside sport. There was never one without the other. I have learned how to balance these two parts of my life and over this past year, I have had a lot of success in both. It’s gratifying to see all the effort and hard work pay off.”Renée Steenge

David La Rue

David La Rue is nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Business Administration at Laval University in Quebec City. After completing his undergraduate degree, the Montreal native wants to obtain his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. Once his skating career comes to an end, he would like to earn his Master of Business Administration and work in money management, perhaps for his own investment firm.

After battling various injuries over the past few seasons, La Rue regained his form and returned to the international stage in 2022-23. The 24-year-old helped Canada win gold in the Team Sprint at the Four Continents Championships in December, before capturing three medals – gold in the Mass Start and bronze in both the 1000m and Team Pursuit – at the FISU World University Games in Lake Placid only one month later. La Rue participated in the final two World Cups of the season in Poland, before wrapping up his domestic campaign ranked first overall in the 1000m and 1500m.

“To have been selected as a recipient of this bursary is a greatly appreciated recognition of my efforts toward my sport and studies over the past few years. I firmly believe this scholarship is paramount within the Speed Skating Canada community as it signifies the encouragement by the organization towards the academic pursuit of athletes.”David La Rue

Alain Brouillette
Speed Skating Canada