From his first experiences with the Saskatoon Lions Speed Skating Club, Yves Belanger has been a starter at a Canadian championship level since 1992, has worked at five World Cup championships and continues as a starter at an international level.
Yves was born in a Northern Ontario community, Mattawa, in 1954 and as a one-year-old, owned his first set of wheels. Growing up in the 1960s, he easily adapted to fun in the backyard rink in winter time and considers his dad as his hero.
Yves first joined the Lions Speed Skating Club as a parent to his daughter, who was an eight-year-old bantam division skater, and one of the friendships he developed was with coach Eugene Hearn. One of his first assignments was in mass start, long-track skating at the Clarence Downey oval. He was soon firing the starter's pistol at western regional long track competitions in Saskatoon and other Prairie ovals.
As well as serving as a starter, Yves became the site administrator at the Downey oval, maintaining the operation and staffing so that the oval is open to the public six days a week during the winter months. There are between 8,000 to 10,000 users of the oval annually.
Yves was honoured to be named volunteer of the year by the speed skating club and especially honoured to have the award presented by two friends, Jeanette and Wayne Fleming. In his 20 years of involvement, he has been a director at large for Speed Skating Canada as well as chairing both the competitions and the risk management committees.
From his roles at Canadian championships, Yves has worked many international meets from 1996 until 2007. Among them were the five World Cups, three Continental cups, two world junior championships and most recently, he's seen with the team of officials at the world single distance championships at Salt Lake City. While he was a starter at the world junior championships in Erfurt, Germany, in 2006, he was able to see the historical sites, including the visit to a piece of the Berlin Wall.