Boisvert-Lacroix wins another gold in 500m, Canadian men's team pursuit skates to gold & national record in Salt Lake City

The Canadian men's and women's team pursuit both qualify for the Olympic Games

Salt Lake City, December 8, 2017 – Alex Boisvert-Lacroix from Sherbrooke, QC, won his second straight gold medal on the World Cup circuit in the 500m distance while Ted-Jan Bloemen, Ben Donnelly and Denny Morrison raced to victory in the men's team pursuit while also improving on the Canadian record, Friday, on the first day of the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating stage to be held until Sunday in Salt Lake City, U.S.A.

Following their performances, the men's and women's team pursuit squads – the latter finished in fifth place on Friday – each earned a spot at the upcoming Olympic Games.

In the men's 500m, after winning his first-ever gold medal on the World Cup circuit at last weekend's stage in Calgary, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix came up with a repeat performance on Friday, to earn his second straight win in the distance.

Boisvert-Lacroix also skated to a new personal best of 34.15 seconds, beating his old mark by 15 hundredths of a second. That is also the fastest time this season in this distance at the international level.

“Today's gold medal is huge, considering it's my second in a row,” said Alex Boisvert-Lacroix. “That's a rare feat in the 500m. The last one who was able to win two in a row was Pavel Kulizhnikov I think, two years ago. It's very exciting to be at a level that is comparable to his. Not many skaters have been able to do the same.”

“Usually, after winning a gold medal, it's tough sometimes to refocus, to relax and to get your head on straight, and to prepare well for the following race. But today, I was able to do it to perfection,” added Boisvert-Lacroix. “Even in the warm-up, I could feel that it would go well, that I would skate to my best time ever. I felt it, I really had strong legs. I think I've never celebrated as much as I did today.”
 
Gilmore Junio (34.663) of Calgary finished in 15th place, just ahead of his teammate Laurent Dubreuil from Lévis, QC, by six thousandths of a second.
 
In the women's 500m, Marsha Hudey (37.53) of White City, SK, was the top Canadian with a 7th-place finish. Heather McLean (37.67) from Winnipeg, MB, was 12th and Kaylin Irvine (38.52) from Calgary, AB, was 18th, as she was invited to reskate her distance on Friday following the skater in her pairing fell in front of her.
 
A new Canadian record and spots at the PyeongChang Games
In the men's team pursuit, Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, AB, Denny Morrison from Fort St. John, B.C., and Ben Donnelly from Oshawa, ON, won gold in Friday's race while also improving on the 10-year-old Canadian record by close to two seconds.

After a fall in last weekend’s World Cup in Calgary, Bloemen, Morrison and Donnelly made amends in great style by skating to a time of 3:36.44. The previous Canadian record, which stood at 3:38.31, had also been set in Salt Lake City, in March of 2007 by Denny Morrison, Arne Dankers and Justin Warsylewicz.

The Canadian trio won Friday's race ahead of Italy (3:36.54) and New Zealand (3:36.79) to earn Canada's first win on the World Cup circuit in this event since November 2015, during the Calgary stage.
 
“When I saw that we beat the teams who raced prior to us, I knew we were in for the Olympics,” said Bloemen. “But to get a medal was important to us too. It was so exciting to watch all the races after us because it was so close. In the end no one could beat us. It’s a really awesome feeling!”
 
“After the fall in Calgary, I sort of had a stressful feeling knowing we really had to perform at this World Cup,” said Donnelly. “I tried not to let it get to me personally, being the one that fell, because I knew that if we just relaxed and skated like how we skate all the time, that it was going to be a great time and probably a podium finish – which it was.”
 
“It's pretty wild to think about all that’s happened, not just over the last two years, but the last ten years,” said Morrison, co-owner of the last two Canadian records in the men's team pursuit. “That record has stood the test of time, as even the Olympic champion team from 2010 was unable to break it. And here we are today, we set a record in a race where the pressure was at its highest. We stuck to our plan, we executed what we had to do, we weren’t trying too hard and it created something really special and beautiful with these medals hanging from our necks today.”
 
Canada therefore finished the Fall World Cups in sixth place overall in men's standings, to therefore qualify for the PyeongChang Games in this event.

Following the four World Cup stages this fall, the top six teams in overall standings were slated to earn qualification spots for the Olympics. A total of eight teams per gender will skate at the Games, the two other spots to be filled by host country South Korea, if it has not already qualified, and the remaining spots going to the one or two teams with the fastest times this season among the non-qualified teams.

The women's team pursuit also earned its ticket to the Olympic Games after taking fifth place, Friday, which allowed Canada to finish third in overall standings after this fall's four World Cup stages.
 
Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann, both from Ottawa, ON, and Keri Morrison of Burlington, ON, skated to a time of 2:56.62, good for fifth place.

Japan (2:50.87) won gold, followed by the Netherlands (2:55.57) and Germany (2:56.14).
 
“It’s pretty crazy!,” said Isabelle Weidemann about qualifying for the Olympic Games. “I think if you looked at us two or three years ago, where the three of us were at and where we were placing, we probably wouldn’t have qualified. So, coming in this year and qualifying a team for the Olympics has been really incredible.”
 
“We did a lot of things right today, but our time was a little bit slow and we dropped off a little in the last couple of laps. There’s still quite a bit to work on,” admitted Weidemann.
 
In the mass start, Ivanie Blondin and Olivier Jean from Lachenaie, QC, qualified for the finals while Keri Morrison and Christopher Fiola of Montreal took 10th and 16th place in their respective semifinals, which means they were eliminated.

In addition to the mass start finals, the second 500m race of the weekend as well as the 1500m are scheduled on Saturday.
 
Racing will be webcast live from Friday to Sunday 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 – M
GOLD: Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (34.15)
15. Gilmore Junio (34.663)
16. Laurent Dubreuil (34.669)

Team Pursuit – M
GOLD: Canada (3:36.44)
(Ted-Jan Bloemen, Ben Donnelly, Denny Morrison)

Team Pursuit – W
5. Canada (2:56.62)
(Ivanie Blondin, Keri Morrison, Isabelle Weidemann)

500m – W
7. Marsha Hudey (37.53)
12. Heather McLean (37.67)
18. Kaylin Irvine (38.52)

Mass Start – W
Ivanie Blondin: 5th in the semifinals and will take part in the final Saturday
Keri Morrison: 10th in the semifinals and eliminated

Mass Start – M
Olivier Jean: 8th in the semifinals and will take part in the final Saturday
Christopher Fiola: 16th in the semifinals and eliminated

500m (B) – M
4. Alexandre St-Jean (34.67)
5. William Dutton (34.73)

500m (B) - W
9. Shannon Rempel (38.67)
 
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

- 30 -

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