Skaters lead the way

ADAM WAZNY -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

The finalists have been announced for Manitoba's best athletes and teams for 2005, as chosen by the Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

Speed skaters Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes headline the female athlete of the year category, both former winners of the award.

Klassen was named Speed Skating Canada's long track female skater of the year, setting world records in the 1,500 and 3,000-metre events.

Hughes was a Bronze medallist in the 5,000-metre and a silver medallist in team pursuit at the World Single Distance Championships.

Joining the speed skaters are Pan American squash gold medallist Alana Miller and Canadian singles and doubles racquetball champion Jennifer Saunders, and Canada Summer Games double medallist Landice Yestrau is the other finalist for female athlete of the year.

World Cup 10-pin bowling champion Mike Schmidt heads the list for the male athlete of the year and is joined by Manitoba amateur golfer of the year Garth Collings and Winnipeg Rifles quarterback Nathan Friesen, who not only led his team to the Prairie Football Conference final for the first time in team history but was also named the PFC's most valuable player.

The other nominees come from outstanding performances on the ice last season.

Brandon Wheat Kings sniper Eric Fehr led the Western Hockey League in scoring and Manitoba Bisons forward Paul Deniset was named the most valuable player in the Canada West Conference.

As for the provincial team of the year, the MSSA will choose between the Jennifer Jones Canadian curling championship squad, Manitoba's mid-amateur golf team, the Anavet Cup champion Portage Terriers, Manitoba's Canada Cup champion under-17 football team, and the Rifles.

Winners will be announced at the awards dinner on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Delta Winnipeg.

Other awards to be announced at the dinner are the Cactus Jack Wells Memorial trophy to recognize the event having the most impact on the sports scene, and the Dallis Beck Memorial Good Guy/Gal award to an individual providing exceptional assistance to the sports media.

Moe Cartman will be inducted posthumously into the MSSA Manitoba Media Roll of Honour. Cartman was sports editor (from 1979-92) at the Portage Graphic.


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