Manitobans well represented on team

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:10 AM ET

Officially, it's called Team Canada.

But the long track speed skating team selected to represent this country at the Turin Winter Games has a decidedly Manitoba flavour.

No fewer than five Winnipeg-born athletes -- plus one coach -- make up the 19-skater contingent, led by multi-medal favourite and 2005 Canadian female athlete of the year, Cindy Klassen.

Joining Klassen on a team expected to be one of Canada's top medal producers in Italy are four-time Olympian Clara Hughes, three-timer Mike Ireland and rookies Shannon Rempel and Brittany Schussler.

Schussler will go as an alternate, seeing live action only in the event of an injury.

"It's really exciting to have five people going," Klassen said from Calgary. "I just found out (Tuesday) night that Brit's going, and her and I are teammates within the team. So I'm really excited about that. It's going to be fun."

Klassen will compete in five events: the 1,000 metres, 1,500, 3,000, 5,000 and the team pursuit.

The distance events are Hughes' specialty, while Rempel and Ireland are sprinters.

"We've got a tremendous, young, skating team this year," said Sean Ireland, Mike's brother, who'll be one of the coaches. "Pretty good depth, and some pretty good strength in pretty much every distance."


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