Calgary to host world’s best 500m & 1000m long track speed skaters at the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships

Calgary, February 22, 2017 – Less than a year away from the 2018 Olympic Games, Calgary will host the world's best 56 sprint events specialists (500m and 1000m) who will pursue their preparation at the ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, February 25-26.
 
At this competition, skaters will each take part in two 500m races and two 1000m events to crown a champion based on the cumulative ranking. Each day, one race in each distance will be held, and the only medals to be awarded will come at the end of the competition, based on cumulative ranking.
 
Racing will start at 12:30 Saturday and Sunday and tickets are available at www.speedsk8.ca/tickets.
 
Three Canadian representatives
Canada will be represented by three skaters: Vincent De Haître from Cumberland, ON, and Laurent Dubreuil from Lévis, QC, on the men’s side, and by Heather McLean from Winnipeg, MB, on the women’s side.
 
De Haître recently won a silver medal in the 1000m at the World Single Distance Championships, held February 9-12 in Gangneung, South Korea, and he finished at the foot of the podium, in fourth place, in the 1500m.
 
“I'm really excited about racing at the World Sprint Championships on home turf,” said Vincent De Haître, who will take part in this competition for the very first time. “Coming off my best ever performance at the World Single Distance Championships, I’m coming into this competition with great confidence. The ice here will help me to showcase my strongest feature, which is my ability to control high speed turns. Although our team is small, we bring a lot of heart. This promises to be a good weekend of racing.”
 
Laurent Dubreuil will take part in his fifth consecutive World Sprint Championships and he is aiming to finish among the top-5 overall.
 
“I've dreamed about two things since I was young: to be an Olympic champion and to be a world sprint champion,” said Laurent Dubreuil, whose best performance in this competition was an eighth-place finish in 2015. “Doing four races in two distances rewards consistency and complete skaters, something which I respect a lot. Also, the World Sprint Championships have more history than the World Single Distance Championships. My parents took part in the World Sprint Championships and this competition has a special place in my heart. This is definitively the competition I prefer.”
 
Heather McLean will compete in her third consecutive World Sprint Championships. Her best result so far was a 12th place finish last year.
 
“I see the World Sprint Championships as an important step in my development as an elite athlete,” said McLean, who took fifth position in the 500m and 23rd place in the 1000m at the recent World Single Distance Championships. “Any opportunity to gain experience at such a high level of competition will benefit me in upcoming years.”
 
“My goals are to put together two complete races in the 500m, which has been a challenge so far this year. If I am able to do that, I believe I can be among the top four in both 500m races.”
 
“I am most excited about being able to compete in my home country, in front of my friends and family. They are a huge part of my support system and for them to see me compete at the World Championships is a little reward for everything they have sacrificed for me.”

Kevin Crockett and Bart Schouten will be the coaches of the Canadian skaters.
 
Canada has climbed 29 times onto the podium at the World Sprint Championships, which have been held annually non-stop since 1970.
 
Featuring international skaters
Including De Haître, this weekend's competition will feature seven of the 12 medalists in the 500m and 1000m events from this year's World Single Distance Championships.
 
On the women’s side, Nao Kodaira from Japan, the 500m gold medalist and 1000m silver medalist in Gangneung, as well as Heather Bergsma from the United States and Jorien Ter Mors from the Netherlands, respectively the gold and bronze medalists in the 1000m, will be in action.
 
On the men’s side, Kjeld Nuis and Kai Verbij from the Netherlands, respectively the gold and bronze medalists in the 1000m at the World Single Distance Championships, and Nico Ihle from Germany, the 500m silver medalist, will be the skaters to watch.
 
The 2017 edition will crown new champions since last year's winners will not be there. Bergsma and Nuis, who both took second place in their respective categories at the 2016 World Sprint Championships, as well as Ter Mors and Verbij, who were third, will be vying to win the championships titles.
 
Broadcast on CBC
The Canadian team's performances will be broadcast on CBC this Saturday, February 25, from 5 pm to 6 pm (Eastern Time) and Sunday, February 26, from 3 pm to 4 pm (local time). Races will also be webstreamed on www.cbcsports.ca and on the ISU Skating Channel at http://www.eurovisionsports.tv/isu/.
 
Skate Calgary - Skate with Canada’s Olympians, Thursday, Feb. 23, 12-1 pm, Olympic Plaza
At Wednesday's press conference, four-time Olympic medalist Denny Morrison made a special announcement along with Speed Skating Canada’s Interim Chief Executive Officer, Susan Auch, and Calgary’s Deputy Mayor, Diane Colley-Urquhart, to celebrate the Organizing Committee Calgary’s 30-year anniversary of hosting the world. Several community partners including Tourism Calgary, The City of Calgary, The Olympic Oval and Speed Skating Canada launched a free public ‘Skate with Canada’s Olympians’ initiative to be held at Olympic Plaza on Thursday, February 23, from noon to 1 pm.
 
For Denny Morrison, the opportunity to skate with Calgarians is a fun way to say thank you to the city and the fans that have welcomed him and embraced the sport for the past 30 years.
 
“Most of the speed skaters who represent Canada have come from all across the country to live and train here in Calgary at the Olympic Oval, on the fastest ice in the world,” said Denny Morrison. “This is our adopted home and skating with Calgarians at Olympic Plaza is our way of saying thanks to everyone for the support, the cheers and the love.”
 
The event, named Skate Calgary, will take place at Olympic Plaza on Thursday, February 23, from noon to 1 pm. This public skating session is free and Calgarians are invited to bring their skates to work and meet many of Canada’s Olympians.
 
More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's web site at www.speedskating.ca and at the Organizing Committee Calgary’s website at www.speedsk8.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