Canada finishes fourth in men's team pursuit event at 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, February 10, 2017 – Canada came in fourth in the men's team pursuit, eight hundredths of a second away from a podium finish and just over one second away from a gold medal, while Heather McLean and Marsha Hudey respectively took fifth and sixth place in the women's 500m, Friday, on the second day of the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships to be held until Sunday in Gangneung, South Korea.
 
In the men's team pursuit, Jordan Belchos of Toronto, ON, Ted-Jan Bloemen from Calgary, AB, and Ben Donnelly of Oshawa, ON, skated to Canada's fastest time in this event this season by finishing the race in 3:41.68, to end up at the foot of the podium. The Netherlands (3:40.66) won gold, followed by New Zealand (3:41.08) and Norway (3:41.60).
 
The same Canadian trio came up with a podium result last year, narrowly finishing ahead of Italy to earn a bronze medal.
 
“Last year, we won a bronze medal by one hundredth of a second and now, here we are on the other side and we get to find out what it feels like. It's going to fuel the fire for the next 12 months,” pointed out Jordan Belchos. “It's going to help us get up in the morning when it's really tough in the summer, something to remind us how hard it is to be the best in the world. We're only a second away from a win. We're a team that comes to win. We can take that from today and move forward.”
 
“Fourth place is always a bit of a bad ranking, being so close to the podium,” said Ted-Jan Bloemen. “We're all sad about that. Still, we executed our plan very well today, it's just that it wasn't fast enough. We were so close! I'm looking forward to next year at the Olympics because we're really close.”
 
The Canadian squad skated in the first pair of Friday's event and the team effort involved that of substitute skater and Olympic medalist Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., who held the lap board for them in the coaches’ box on the ice.
 
“Being in the first pair is always a bit of a disadvantage, because the skaters who come after can gauge how fast the ice is,” pointed out Ben Donnelly. “We had a small drop off in the lap times we wanted. But, execution wise it was pretty spot on, I would say perfect in regards to what we wanted to do. We should have tweaked it a bit and skated a little bit faster in terms of lap times with the ice condition.”
 
In the women's team pursuit, Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa, ON, as well as Brianne Tutt from Airdrie, AB, saw their race end abruptly when one of the skaters fell in the last turn leading to the finish line. It was an unfortunate ending for a Canadian squad that was, at the time, leading its race against South Korea and was in position to fight for a podium finish. The Netherlands (2:55.85) won gold, followed by Japan (2:56.50) and Russia (3:00.51).
 
Good start for McLean and Hudey
In the women's 500m, Heather McLean (37.86) of Winnipeg, MB, and Marsha Hudey (37.89) from White City, SK, respectively finished fifth and sixth. Kaylin Irvine (38.546) from Calgary, AB, was 19th.

Nao Kodaira (37.13) from Japan won gold, Sang-Hwa Lee (37.48) from South Korea, silver, and Jing Yu (37.57) from China, bronze.
 
“I set a goal of finishing among the top 6 and heading in the Olympics next year, I'm fine about being kind of a dark horse for the women's 500m,” said Heather McLean, who came in ninth in the same distance at last year's competition.
 
“I still have a lot of room for improvement and I have a long way to go, but I'm happy about my race today. I'm really happy with my opener, it was my best of the year so far. I've been working on a few things since the fall and it just started to come together before the World Single Distance Championships. I'm happy that I was able to work a few of them into today's race.”
 
As for Marsha Hudey, she improved on her ranking from last year, finishing sixth after coming in 16th a year ago.
 
“I'm really happy with my race today. I think overall I've had a pretty good year,” she pointed out. “I've been really consistent in my races and I was happy to come out today and put together another consistent race. I also had a personal best in my opener, which is really exciting because it's always nice to do those kinds of things at these kinds of meets, so I'm pumped about that!”
 
Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, QC, was the top Canadian in the men's 500m as he finished ninth in 34.94, eighteen hundredths of a second away from a podium finish. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix from Sherbrooke, QC, was 13th (35.02) and William Dutton was 15th (35.07).
 
The gold medal went to Jan Smeekens (34.58) of the Netherlands. Germany's Nico Ihle (34.66) earned silver and Russia's Ruslan Murashov (34.76) collected bronze.
 
“I knew that I needed to have an impeccable race to have a chance to win a medal. After a very good start, my first turn wasn't perfect and I wasn't able to accelerate as much as I would have liked,” said Laurent Dubreuil. “However, I did well over the last 300m and I battled until the end, I was quite fast in the last straight, but it wasn't enough. My first turn is where I lost it. A ninth place finish considering that I'm 11th in World Cup standings, it's a fair reflection of my ranking. It wasn't great, but it wasn't a bad race either.”
 
Saturday's schedule will feature the men's and women's 1000m, as well as the women's 5000m and the men's 10,000m.
 
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/.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m W
5. Heather McLean (37.86)
6. Marsha Hudey (37.89)
19. Kaylin Irvine (38.546)

500m M
9. Laurent Dubreuil (34.94)
13. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (35.02)
15. William Dutton (35.07)

Team Pursuit M
4. Canada (3:41.68)
(Jordan Belchos, Ted-Jan Bloemen, Ben Donnelly)

Team Pursuit W
DNF. Canada
(Ivanie Blondin, Brianne Tutt, Isabelle Weidemann)

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.

- 30 -

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