2018 Olympic countdown starts with the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Long Track Championships

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, February 8, 2017 – Canada's top 16 long track speed skaters will battle against the best in the world at the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships which will be held this week, February 9-12, on the official ice of the 2018 Olympic Games in Gangneung, South Korea. The competition, which will take place exactly one year prior to the Opening Ceremonies, will serve as a pre-Olympic test event.
 
Canadian skaters who have won individual medals this season on the World Cup circuit, i.e. Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, AB, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, ON, and Vincent De Haître of Cumberland, ON, will lead the Canadian team on this occasion.
 
At the World Single Distance Championships, champions are crowned in the following men’s and women’s events: 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 5000m, mass start and team pursuit, as well as the women’s 5000m and the men’s 10,000m.
 
First step towards a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team
Through their performances at the World Single Distance Championships, Canadian skaters may earn a first pre-selection requirement for nomination to the 2018 Olympic Team by winning a medal in an individual distance at this week's competition.
 
This pre-selection qualification will require performance confirmation(s) during the 2017 Fall World Cups. Detailed selection criteria will be available after this weekend competition.
 
The number of pre-selection nominations will be limited to the number of quota spots, minus one (-1), that Canada earns for each distance during the 2017 Fall World Cups, thereby leaving one quota position available per distance for the 2018 Olympic Trials which will be held January 4-9, 2018, at Calgary’s Olympic Oval.
 
An eye on the podium
Crowned Mass Start World Champion last year in Kolomna, Russia, Ivanie Blondin is looking to repeat her performance.
 
“For sure, I want to keep my Mass Start World Title. I feel ready,” said Ivanie Blondin.

Winner of a silver medal in the 10,000m and a bronze in the team pursuit at last year's World Single Distance Championships, Ted-Jan Bloemen will take part in the same events this week, as well as in the 5000m. He won a gold medal in that latter distance at the World Cup held in Berlin a few weeks ago.
 
“It’s great, going in the World Single Distance Championships, to have won a gold medal in the previous competition,” said Ted-Jan Bloemen. “Also, when I met up with the team in Gangneung, there was great energy. I know we will be strong in the upcoming competition.”
 
The gold medalist in the 1000m at the ISU World Cup #3 in Kazakhstan, Vincent De Haître also wants to step on the podium at these World Championships.
 
“I think I’m able to be among the top five in the 1000m and 1500m,” said De Haître. “If that happens, I'll be happy with my performances. But the main goal will still be to reach the podium.”
 
The best Canadian so far this season in the 500m distance, Laurent Dubreuil from Levis, QC, is also looking to win a medal.
 
“My goal is to win a medal in the 500m. I won't think too much about the 1000m until then because the 500m will be held before, so I’m focusing entirely on that,” said Dubreuil.
 
All athletes qualified following their performances at the 2016 Fall World Cups or at the 2017 Canadian Single Distance Championships.
 
Racing will start on Thursday, February 9, with the women’s 3000m and men’s 5000m. On Friday, the 500m as well as team pursuit events are scheduled, followed on Saturday by the 1000m, the women’s 5000m and the men’s 10,000m. The 1500m and mass start events will take place on the last day of the competition, Sunday.
 
Canada won four medals in each of the past two editions. Last year in Kolomna, Russia, Ivanie Blondin won a gold medal in the mass start event, Ted-Jan Bloemen a silver in the 10,000m and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix, a bronze in the 500m, while Bloemen, Jordan Belchos and Ben Donnelly collected bronze in the team pursuit race. Since the first event was held in 1996, Canada has won 76 medals.
 
Broadcast on CBC
The performances of the Canadian team will be broadcast on CBC this Sunday, February 12th, from 1 pm to 2 pm. Saturday and Sunday races will also be webstreamed live on www.cbcsports.ca while all races will also be webstreamed live on the ISU Skating Channel at http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/isu/.

Members of the Canadian National Team at the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships:

WOMEN                                                              
-BLONDIN, Ivanie (Ottawa, ON) –3000m, 5000m, mass start, team pursuit
-HUDEY, Marsha (White City, SK) – 500m
-IRVINE, Kaylin (Calgary, AB) – 500m, 1000m
-McLEAN, Heather (Winnipeg, MB) – 500m, 1000m
-TUTT, Brianne (Airdrie, AB) – 1500m, team pursuit
-WEIDEMANN, Isabelle (Ottawa, ON) – 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, team pursuit

MEN
-BELCHOS, Jordan (Toronto, ON) – 5000m, 10,000m, mass start, team pursuit
-BLOEMEN, Ted-Jan (Calgary, AB) – 5000m, 10,000m, team pursuit
-BOISVERT-LACROIX, Alex (Sherbrooke, QC) – 500m
-De HAÎTRE, Vincent (Cumberland, ON) – 1000m, 1500m
-DONNELLY, Ben (Oshawa, ON) – 1500m
-DUBREUIL, Laurent (Lévis, QC) – 500m, 1000m
-DUTTON, William (Humboldt, SK) – 500m
-JEAN, Olivier (Lachenaie, QC) – mass start
-MORRISON, Denny (Fort St. John, B.C.) – team pursuit
-ST-JEAN, Alexandre (Quebec City, QC) – 1000m

More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's web site at www.speedskating.ca.
   
About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for competitive long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, the association is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial branches representing more than 14,000 individual members, and counting. SSC believes that sport is an apprenticeship for life and prizes respect for others, integrity, excellence of effort, as well as a safe, healthy environment. SSC recognizes and values its outstanding volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise. It also celebrates the 63 Olympic medals won by Canadian athletes since 1932, as well as the coaches, officials and other dedicated individuals who helped them on their journey.

SSC is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values including our premium sponsors Intact Insurance, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, City of Montreal, Calgary Olympic Oval and WinSport Canada.

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For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC

Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-589-8960
Website: www.speedskating.ca  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC