Canada wins gold in men's team sprint & Alex Boisvert-Lacroix collects bronze in 500m at ISU World Cup Long Track in Heerenveen

Heerenveen, December 11, 2015 – The Canadian men's squad racing in the team sprint, comprised of Gilmore Junio, Vincent De Haître and Alexandre St-Jean, won a gold medal while Alex Boisvert-Lacroix earned bronze in the men's 500m, Friday, on the first day of the fourth stage of the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating season held this weekend in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

In the team sprint, Junio of Calgary, De Haître of Cumberland, ON, and St-Jean from Quebec City, worked together to win gold with a time of 1:19.75. They finished ahead of Russia (1:21.27) and the host country, the Netherlands (1:21.29), by almost two seconds.

Canada has won gold in this event for the second time this season, after finishing first at the Salt Lake City stage.

“Today's race was textbook, it went pretty much the way we envisioned it,” said Gilmore Junio. “Alex (St-Jean) was able to keep our speed up in the second lap and Vince (De Haître), who's probably one of the best in the world at skating the third lap in this event, did the rest. I don't think we could have raced any better than that.”
 
“I think we have the level to keep this up going forward,” added De Haître.
 
The Canadian women were not as fortunate as Marsha Hudey of White City, SK, Kaylin Irvine of Calgary and Heather McLean of Winnipeg, MB, were unable to finish their race in the women's team pursuit due to a fall.
 
Alex Boisvert-Lacroix wins third medal this season
In the first men's 500m race of the weekend, Alex Boisvert-Lacoix of Sherbrooke, QC, came up with his third medal on the long track World Cup circuit this season – and also of his career – when he finished third with a time of 34.78.
 
The 28-year-old skater now has one silver medal and two bronze in 500m events so far this season.
 
“This week, I was happy to be here in Heereveen, because this is where I've almost always had my best races. This is where I had my first top-10 results in group A races, and also several podiums in group B,” said Alex Boisvert-Lacroix. “And today, I executed my race plan almost perfectly, I did everything I set out to do in every section.”

Alex Boisvert-Lacroix was feeling some pain in his hip after Friday's race, however, and he was unsure he would be able to race in Saturday's 1000m.

“I may opt out of the race to rest and be better prepared for Sunday's second 500m of the weekend. I will need to be ready in that race, especially when you consider that I'm second in World Cup standings (in the 500m), which means I'll be matched with the great Pavel Kulizhnikov in the last pair,” said Boisvert-Lacroix.
 
Friday, Kulizhnikov won the 500m with a time of 34.48 after missing last week's World Cup in Inzell, Germany. His teammate Aleksey Yesin (34.65) came up with the bronze.
 
Gilmore Junio, who won gold last week in that distance, finished 11th on Friday (35.09). Laurent Dubreuil (35.13) of Lévis, QC, was 13th, Alexandre St-Jean was 15th (35.23) and William Dutton of Humboldt, SK, was 17th (35.30).
 
On the women's side, Heather McLean finished in ninth place with a time of 38.37, after she won bronze last Sunday in Inzell. Her teammate Marsha Hudey came in 16th (38.79).

“It was a good race, I'm happy about getting another top-10 result, but I still have a lot of things I need to work on,” said Heather McLean. “The important thing for me is to continue to get more experience in racing.”
 
South Korea's Sang-Hwa Lee, who trains at Calgary's Olympic Oval alongside McLean and Hudey, won Friday's race in 37.59. American skaters Brittany Bowe (37.86) and Heather Richardson-Bergsma (37.93), in that order, also stepped on the podium.

In the women's 3000m, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa was 10th in 4:11.45. Czech skater Martina Sábliková won gold in 4:03.50, followed by Annouk van der Weijden of the Netherlands (4:05.39) and Olga Graf from Russia (4:06.57).
 
In the team pursuit event, the Canadian men's squad comprised of Jordan Belchos of Toronto, Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, QC, and Stefan Waples of Winnipeg, MB, took eighth place with a time of 3:48.93. The Netherlands (3:43.77), Norway (3:44.67) and Russia (3:46.24) respectively won gold, silver and bronze.

Because Ted-Jan Bloemen was unable to race due to injury, Olivier Jean took part in this event for the first time in his career while it was Waples' second time. Waples also skated in a team pursuit race during the first stage of the 2014-2015 World Cup season in Obihiro, Japan.
 
Best-ever performance by Josie Spence
In the division B events, Josie Spence of Kamloops, B.C. came up with the best performance of her career in the 3000m by finishing second with a time of 4:10.80. She was only 61 hundredths of a second away from her personal best time. Her 9th-place finish in the B group, last week in Inzell, had been her best rank in a 3000m race so far.
                                                                                            
Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa finished sixth (4:13.38).

“I'm really happy with my race,” said Josie Spence. “I've learned a lot about myself in these last few World Cups -- how to dig in deep, play to my strengths and work on my weaknesses – and in this race, it all came together for me.”

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

Team Sprint M - A
GOLD: Canada: 1:19.75
(Gilmore Junio, Alexandre St-Jean, Vincent De Haître)

500m M (1) - A
BRONZE: Alex Boisvert-Lacroix: 34.78
11: Gilmore Junio: 35.09
13: Laurent Dubreuil: 35.13
15: Alexandre St-Jean: 35.23
17: William Dutton: 35.30

500m W (1) - A
9: Heather McLean: 38.37
16: Marsha Hudey: 38.79

3000m W - A
10: Ivanie Blondin: 4:11.45

Team Pursuit M - A
8: Canada: 3:48.93
(Jordan Belchos, Olivier Jean, Stefan Waples)

Team Sprint W - A
Canada : fall
(Marsha Hudey, Kaylin Irvine, Heather McLean)

3000m W - B
2: Josie Spence : 4:10.80
6: Isabelle Weidemann : 4:13.38

500m (1) F - B
8: Kaylin Irvine: 39.28
 
More details, including the race schedule, are available at Speed Skating Canada's website 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, and WinSport Canada.

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Kerry Dankers
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