Calgary, January 6, 2017 – Ben Donnelly and Olivier Jean were named on the Canadian team that will take part in the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships following their performances on Friday at Calgary's Olympic Oval, on the last day of the Canadian Single Distance Championships. For her part, Ivanie Blondin won the women's 1500m to earn Canada's second spot in this distance at the international competition.
In the men's mass start, Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, QC, won his first ever Canadian national title in long track, which will allow him to skate for the first time at the World Single Distance Championships. That competition will take place February 9-12 on the official ice of the 2018 Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea.
On Friday, Jean finished ahead of Christopher Fiola from Montreal, QC, by only 13 hundredths of a second to earn his spot in Gangneung. Jordan Belchos of Toronto, ON, who had already pre-qualified for the 2017 World Championships in this event thanks to the results he came up with at the Fall World Cups, finished third.
“I’m extremely happy. I’m a Canadian champion not even a year and a half after starting to fully commit to long track. Things are turning out great for me and I've had a lot of support from Speed Skating Canada since I've crossed over to long track,” said Olivier Jean, who previously skated in short track. “It'll be awesome to skate at my first World Championships in long track. Considering what I want to achieve, which is to win at the Olympic Games next year, I'm doing all the right things that are allowing me to head in the right direction week after week, and month after month.”
“I’m super confident because I’ve done seven marathons (on ice) this season, at 100 to 150 laps each,” added Jean. “When I stepped on the line today, I was extremely confident with my energy, with my fitness and everything I needed leading up to this race.”
In the women's mass start, Isabelle Weidemann won ahead of Abigail McCluskey of Calgary, AB, and Béatrice Lamarche from Quebec City, QC.
That race had no impact on the World Single Distance Championships as Ivanie Blondin had already pre-qualified for Canada's sole available spot in this event.
“It was nice to end the week with a fun race. It’s always fun to come out and get some experience,” said Isabelle Weidemann, who for now has qualified for the women's 5000m at the 2017 World Championships.
Another Canadian title for De Haître; Donnelly earns spot in 1500m
In the men's 1500m, Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, ON, won his second national title of this week's competition by finishing first in Thursday's race in 1:45.11. De Haître had already pre-qualified in this distance, as he was for the 1000m.
“Being pre-qualified for these events took some of the pressure off, but it didn’t take off the pressure that I put on myself,” said Vincent de Haître. “I know I want to perform. I was hoping to set a faster time and I had a big plan for it over the last few weeks. I knew exactly how I wanted to do it. I executed the race pretty much according to plan, but the lap speed just wasn’t there today due to a few factors. It’s a confidence boost for the World Championships to see that I can still perform even when I’m tired.”
Ben Donnelly of Oshawa, ON, was second with a time of 1:46.46, four tenths of a second ahead of Denny Morrison (1:46.84) from Fort St. John, B.C.
Finishing in second place allowed Ben Donnelly to earn Canada's second and last available spot in the 1500m at the World Single Distance Championships. This will be the second time he will skate at this competition; he won bronze last spring in Kolomna, Russia, in the team pursuit event.
“I wanted it really bad, and I had to fight really hard during the last lap because I knew it would be close, but it ended well,” Ben Donnelly pointed out. “I’m super excited to be qualified for the World Single Distance Championships again, but this time it will be for an individual distance. It’s really nice because it’s the biggest competition of the year. Being able to go there and compete will be super fun, as well as a great learning experience leading into the Olympic year.”
“At the Fall World Cup trials, physically at the time I was there, but the execution of my race was poor,” added Donnelly, who did not qualify for the fall stages on the international circuit. “It was tough to take because I knew I had it in me to skate fast, but I just didn’t. Not being able to skate the fall World Cups and having to stay home really made me evaluate things and think, and want to work that much harder. It’s no fun to have to train at home without having races to look forward to or without having the payoff of racing. I really had to focus on the little things, more on the technical side than in terms of fitness.”
Blondin qualifies for a fourth event
Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, ON, qualified for a fourth event at the 2017 World Championships as she won the women's 1500m held Friday.
Blondin (1:55.86), who had already pre-qualified for the 3000m, 5000m and women's mass start at the World Championships in Gangneung, picked up Canada's second and last spot in the 1500m by finishing Friday's race ahead of Brianne Tutt (1:57.69) from Airdrie, AB, who was already pre-qualified for the World Championships, and Isabelle Weidemann (1:58.43) from Ottawa, ON.
“I was really happy with the race, I was only one second away from my personal best, so that was positive,” said Ivanie Blondin. “I really die hard, which is good because the conditions weren’t favourable for fast times.”
“It’s the first time in a long time that I am not crashing or really tired at the mid-season point,” added Blondin. “We made a few adjustments this season with my program and I really respected it, which was good in the sense that I didn’t burn myself out mid-season. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do at the World Championships and later this season.”
The final and official list of Canadian skaters and the events in which they will take part at the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships will be announced at a later date following approval by Speed Skating Canada's Long Track High Performance Committee, which will evaluate any appeal or exemption request, if applicable.
Canada Cup #2
In Canada Cup #2 races, which were presented at the same time as the National Single Distance Championships, David Larue (1:47.95) of Saint-Lambert, QC, won the men's 1500m, ahead of Daniel Dubreuil (1:49.27) of Lévis, QC, Spain's Inigo Vidondo (1:49.36) and Jacob Graham (1:50.35) from Dawson Creek, B.C.
Alexandra Ianculescu (2:04.52) of Romania won the women's 1500m. She was followed by Lauren Mcguire (2:05.46) of Ottawa, ON, Véronique Déry (2:06.03) of Lévis, QC, and Sara Spence (2:08.30) from Kamloops, B.C.
In the only mass start race held as part of Canada Cup #2, Cameron Mason from London, ON, finished first ahead of Spanish skater Inigo Vidondo, as well as ahead of Matej Pederson and Jean-Christophe Lataille, both from Calgary, AB.
Canada Cup competitions are a series of events where athletes can earn points for each distance towards season-ending rankings, as well as a competition for senior and junior A, B, C2 athletes, this last category being dedicated to skaters born between July 1st, 2001, and June 30, 2002.
More information, including the results, is available at Speed Skating Canada's website 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 and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.
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Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Phone: 514 213-9897