Canada wins first medal of the 2017-2018 ISU World Cup Long Track season by skating to bronze in women's team pursuit

Heerenveen, Netherlands, November 10, 2017 – The women's team pursuit squad came up with Canada's first medal of the 2017-2018 ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating season, Friday, as it won bronze on the first day of the stage to be held until Sunday in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

The team pursuit squad comprised of Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON), Isabelle Weidemann (Ottawa, ON) and Josie (Spence) Morrison (Kamloops, BC) took third place in 3:00.65, finishing behind Japan (2:55.77) and the Netherlands (2:59.06). Japan set a new world record, erasing the mark of 2:55.79 that had been set by Canadians Kristina Groves, Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler in December 2009 in Calgary.

 “We’ve worked really hard this summer building the bond between us and I think that paid off today, said Ivanie Blondin. There was a lot of trust out there, which is really important in this event.”

“I really don’t think we could have gotten that medal today without us all working together as one,” added Josie Morrison.

“The team learned a very valuable lesson today in terms of execution,” said women's team pursuit coach Marcel Lacroix. “They’ve been working together for many months and trying to find that team synergy. Today, they went into the race very relaxed and composed, and they did what they have been doing in practice. You don’t try hard, you just try well. It’s also about a collective effort. They started together and finished together and were extremely strong over the last two laps.”

“I think Marcel as a coach for our team has been a huge advantage and I’m super excited to work with him given his history in team pursuit”, said Blondin, supported by Morrison: “Marcel is an amazing coach and I think that his touch on it all has really made a huge difference. He’s given us a lot of confidence and belief in being a strong team together.”

On the men's side, Canadian team pursuit skaters Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, AB), Jordan Belchos (Markham, ON), and Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) took fourth place in 3:43.48, recovering well after Bloemen slipped in the corner early in the race. They finished behind South Korea (3:40.20), Norway (3:41.48) and New Zealand (3:42.22).

"I think it's safe to say that as a team, we aren't satisfied with the race today," said Denny Morrison. "We executed the plan that we set out to do, but a few mistakes early in the race cost us towards the end. We've trained to break world records and are strong enough to be on the podium. Our expectations are greater than our performance today demonstrated."

500m: Junio in the top 10
In individual events, Gilmore Junio (Calgary, AB) was the top Canadian of the day with a top-10 result in the men's 500m A final. He skated to 10th place in 35.04 seconds, 0.35 seconds away from winner Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen of Norway, to earn the right to stay in group A.

“I was a little nervous going into today; it had been a while since I’ve been on the World Cup scene mixing it up with the big boys,” said Junio, who only skated in the first two World Cup stages last season. “The race itself wasn’t great, it wasn’t terrible, but it was something from which I can take a lot of positives. I have to clean up some technical points but my focus stays the same. It’s a tight field in the 500m, so just to be in the mix is something to build off of.”

In the men's 500m B group, Laurent Dubreuil (Lévis, QC) was third in 35.11, William Dutton (Humboldt, SK) was fourth in 35.17, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (Sherbrooke, QC) was 7th in 35.35 and Alexandre St-Jean (Quebec City, QC) was 19th in 35.66. Dubreuil and Dutton will move up to group A in Saturday's second 500m race of the stage.

In the women's 500m A group, Heather McLean (Winnipeg, MB) skated to 14th place (38.60) in a race won by Japan's Nao Kodaira (37.29) and will remain in group A, while Marsha Hudey (White City, SK) fell in the first corner and had to settle for 20th place, meaning she will skate in the B group in Saturday's 500m.

"My race today was below the level I've been training and racing at," said McLean. "I'm disappointed today, but I will reset and I'm looking forward to having another opportunity to race the 500 tomorrow."

Kaylin Irvine (Calgary, AB) took fourth spot in Friday's 500m B group, with a time of 39,008.

Three Canadians move on to mass start finals
In Mass Start, Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC), Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) and Keri Morrison (Burlington, ON) all finished among the top-8 in their respective heats in Friday's semifinals, therefore earning spots in Saturday's finals.

Ivanie Blondin finished fourth in the second women's semifinal of the day, while Keri Morrison was 8th in the first semifinal. Blondin found herself in a tough spot, however, when she fell in the straightaway and spun around before getting back up and working her way back into the pack, where she then made her way up all the way to fourth place.

Olivier Jean skated to second place in the second men's semifinals, to also move on to Saturday's final. Christopher Fiola had to settle for 22nd place in the first semifinal and did not move on.

Saturday, the second 500m, the 1500m and the mass start finals are scheduled while on Sunday, the 1000m, the women’s 3000m, the men’s 5000m and team sprint events will be held.
 
The races will be webstreamed live on the CBC Sports (http://www.cbc.ca/sports) and Radio-Canada Sports (http://ici.radio-canada.ca/) websites.
 
More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca.
 
TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

Team Pursuit – W
BRONZE: Canada (3:00.65)
(Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann, Josie Morrison)

Team Pursuit – M
4. Canada (3:43.48)
(Denny Morrison, Jordan Belchos, Ted-Jan Bloemen)

500m (A) – M
10. Gilmore Junio (35.04)

500m (A) – W
14. Heather McLean (38.60)
20. Marsha Hudey (DNF-fall)

500m (B) - W
4. Kaylin Irvine (39.008)

500m (B) – M
3. Laurent Dubreuil (35.11)
4. William Dutton (35.17)
7. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (35.35)
19. Alexandre St-Jean (35.660)

Mass Start – W
Ivanie Blondin: 4th in the semifinals and will take part in the final Saturday
Keri Morrison: 8th in the semifinals and will take part in the final Saturday

Mass Start – M
Olivier Jean: 2nd in the semifinals and will take part in the final Saturday
Christopher Fiola: 22nd in the semifinals and eliminated

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  
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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 
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