Blondin, Boisvert-Lacroix, Jean & Keri Morrison qualify individually for PyeongChang 2018

Canada qualified a total of 15 spots, Saturday, for the long track competition at the Olympic Games

Salt Lake City, December 9, 2017 – Canada may not have set foot on the podium on Saturday at the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating stage in Salt Lake City, U.S.A., but that did not prevent Ivanie Blondin, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix, Olivier Jean and Keri Morrison from individually qualifying for the provisional long track team at the 2018 Olympic Games, while Canada earned 15 sports for PyeongChang 2018.

All qualified spots and athletes are unofficial until the ISU confirms spots for each country for the 2018 Olympic Games by the end of 2017 and Speed Skating Canada makes the team selection and nomination to the Canadian Olympic Team followed by the official announcement after the 2018 Long Track Team Selections.
 
In the men's 500m, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, QC, was the top Canadian with a fifth-place finish, allowing him to finish the four fall Fall World Cup in fourth place overall in the men's 500m, and also to earn a qualification spot on a personal basis for the PyeongChang Games in this distance.

According to Speed Skating Canada's 2018 Olympic selection procedures and policies, a skater who won at least one individual medal this fall on the World Cup circuit (Boisvert-Lacroix won two gold medals in the 500m) and who finished among the top five in overall standings in the same distance following the first four World Cup stages of the season would qualify for the Olympic Games, as long as Canada collected at least two qualification spots in that distance.
 
“I still can hardly believe it,” said Alex Boisvert-Lacroix. “I had such a bad start to the season – I started out in group B and I had some bad races, so I wasn't even thinking about pre-qualifying. It wasn't planned at all. And now, it's done. This is crazy! I'm having trouble describing what I'm feeling. I knew it was going to be a tough season because we have so many strong skaters in Canada and internationally. All my life, I've dreamed of going to the Olympics. To see it come true today, it still hasn't hit me. This is really a historic moment in my life.”
 
After respectively skating to 15th and 19th place, on Saturday, Gilmore Junio (34.49) and Laurent Dubreuil (34.67) finished the Fall World Cup season 10th and 13th overall, to allow Canada to collect a total of three spots in the men's 500m at the PyeongChang Games.
 
Boisvert-Lacroix placed fifth in Saturday's race with a time of 34.18, only three hundredths of a second away from a bronze medal and from the personal best he set on Friday, and which allowed him to win gold.
 
Russia's Ruslan Murashov won Saturday's race in 34.02, only four hundredths of a second away for the world record. He was followed by Dutch skaters Kai Verbij (34.13) and Dai Dai Ntab (34.15).

“It's crazy how fast it was going today,” pointed out Boisvert-Lacroix. “Usually, you wind up on the podium with a time like this and today, I ended up fifth. I was following everyone's times and I knew it was faster than usual. There was lot of pressure on me, but I was able to stay focused and I did what I needed to do. At the end, I was nose to nose with my opponent. I may have gotten a little excited and may have lost a hundredth of a second or two. But apart from that, it was a near-perfect race.”
 
Blondin, Jean and Morrison in mass start
In the mass start, Ivanie Blondin from Ottawa skated to sixth place, Saturday, to also finish sixth in overall standings after this fall's four World Cup stages. Eliminated in Friday's semifinals, Keri Morrison of Burlington, ON, ended up 12th overall.
 
On the men's side, Olivier Jean from Lachenaie, QC, finished 8th in Saturday's race to end up 10th in overall standings.
 
According to Speed Skating Canada's 2018 Olympic selection procedures and policies, Canadian skaters needed to finish among the top 16 in overall standings to qualify personally for the PyeongChang Games, a feat which has now been accomplished by these three skaters.
 
“I’m ecstatic about making the Olympics in the mass start, but I’m not happy with my performances of late in this event,” stated Ivanie Blondin. “I’m working really hard on what I need to do to get back on the podium in the new year, and also at the Olympics. I know I can do well in this event and will do everything in my power to come up with my best performance when it counts.”
 
“It’s pretty crazy to think about it,” said Keri Morrison. “When I first changed over from short track, it wasn’t about my results, I just needed to find that love of skating again. I have been working hard to take small steps, one at a time, and it’s paid off. This feels like a big step for me, but I’m going to approach it the same way. I’m looking forward to what the rest of this season will bring!”
 
“This is pretty incredible,” said Olivier Jean. “I've now qualified for my third Olympic Games, and I feel the same goosebumps and chills that I did eight years ago for my first Olympics in Vancouver (in short track). When I look back at the chance I took three years ago when I came over to long track, and at all the work I've put in, I'm really proud of what I've accomplished so far. This is big step that's been taken, but I'm realistic and I know there is still a lot of work to be done. My goal was never to simply be at the Olympics, but rather to win an Olympic medal. There's still a big step to take, but I'm heading in the right direction.”
 
Nine other qualification spots for Canada
Also on Saturday, Canada earned nine other qualification spots for the 2018 Olympics – three spots in the women's 500m, three in the men's 1500m and three more in the women's 1500m.
 
In the women's 500m, Heather McLean from Winnipeg was the top Canadian on Saturday, as she ended up ninth (37.50). Marsha Hudey was 12th (37.81) and Kaylin Irvine was 17th, while also improving on her personal best by one hundredth of a second, thanks to a time of 37.97.
 
All three Canadian skaters finished the Fall World Cup season in the top 20 overall, as Hudey ended up 7th, while McLean was 10th and Irvine was 20th, therefore allowing Canada to earn a total of three spots in this event at the PyeongChang Games.
 
In the men's 1500m, Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., skated to fifth place in 1:42.92, in a race where Russia's Denis Yuskov won in 1:41.02, beating the world record by two hundredths of a second. Dutch skaters Koen Verweij and Thomas Krol followed in second and third spots.
 
Vincent De Haître from Cumberland, ON, was 11th in 1:43.91.
 
“I wasn't able to step on the podium in this really competitive field, but today was nonetheless another step forward,” said Denny Morrison. “I don’t know when was the last time I came up with a time of 1:42. I’m super happy with my time! But what makes me most happy is that I now have the feeling that I can do it again. I’m pretty sure that between now and the Olympics trials, I will be able to improve my opener and my overall time.”
 
“It’s pretty cool to be taking these small steps and earning these small victories as we approach the Olympics. Every small step forward I take now is an individual victory, but I feel that it is indicative of how much my team has done for me to get me back to this level.”
 
In the women's 1500m, Kali Christ of Regina, SK, took sixth place with a time of 1:54.47. while Brianne Tutt from Airdrie, AB, was 11th (1:54.94), Ivanie Blondin was 17th (1:56.60) and Isabelle Weidemann from Ottawa was 18th (1:56.61).
 
“This is the best I’ve done in the fall, placement wise, and my second fastest race ever after the one I did back in 2015,” said Kali Christ. “It’s really exciting to be here and to know that I’m back, and that my races are increasingly consistent.”
 
Canada will therefore have three representatives in the women's 1500m and three more in the men's 1500m at PyeongChang 2018, because three skaters finished among the top 20 in the women's overall standings, while on the men's side, two skaters ended up among the top 20 and another skated to one of the 16 other fastest times.
 
The remaining spots will be assigned at the 2018 Long Track Team Selections, set to take place January 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 at Calgary's Olympic Oval.
 
The 1000m races, the men's 5000m and the women's 3000m are scheduled on Sunday, the last day of the Salt Lake City World Cup stage.
 
Racing is webcasted live on the CBC Sports (http://www.cbc.ca/sports) and Radio-Canada Sports (http://ici.radio-canada.ca/) websites. Group B races will also be webcast this weekend at www.teamusa.org/US-Speedskating/News/Featured-News/2017/December/06/Worl....

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m (2) – M
5. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (34.18)
15. Gilmore Junio (34.496)
19. Laurent Dubreuil (34.67)

1500m – M
5. Denny Morrison (1:42.92)
11. Vincent De Haître (1:43.91)

Mass Start – W
6. Ivanie Blondin

1500m – W
6. Kali Christ (1:54.57)
11. Brianne Tutt (1:54.94)
17. Ivanie Blondin (1:56.60)
18. Isabelle Weidemann (1:56.61)

Mass Start – M
8. Olivier Jean

500m (2) – W
9. Heather McLean (37.50)
12. Marsha Hudey (37.81)
17. Kaylin Irvine (37.97)

1500m (B) – M
4. David La Rue (1:44.53)
5. Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (1:44.61)

500m (2B) – M
4. Alexandre St-Jean (34.65)
7. William Dutton (34.81)

500m (2B) – W
9. Shannon Rempel (38.53)
 
About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, SSC is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial associations. Speed Skating Canada is committed to Challenge and Inspire Canada to Thrive through the power of Speed Skating. 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. www.speedskating.ca

Speed Skating Canada would like to thank its sponsors:

Premium partner: Intact Insurance
Funding partners: Government of Canada (Sport Canada), Own The Podium, Canadian Olympic Committee
Official On-Ice High Performance Apparel: Li-Ning
Long Track Team Sponsor: KIA
Official Suppliers: Auclair, USANA
Official Technical Equipment Supplier: Nagano Skate
Sport Development Partners: Winsport Canada, Calgary’s Olympic Oval, University of Calgary, Institut national du sport du Québec, Government of Quebec, Canadian Sport Institute-Calgary, City of Montreal, Quebec City, Excellence sportive Québec-Lévis

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For information:
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 

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