Canada wins gold in team sprint at Long Track World Cup in Japan

Nagano, Japan, November 19, 2016 – Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, QC, Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, ON, and Christopher Fiola from Montreal, QC, joined forces to allow Canada to win the gold medal in the team sprint event, Saturday, at the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating stage held until Sunday in Nagano, Japan.

The Canadian trio skated to a time of 1:20.52 to finish ahead of Germany (1:21.27) and Japan (1:21.53).

“We won by a lot, by seven tenths of a second, which means we had a very strong race,” pointed out Laurent Dubreuil.

“It's always fun to do the team sprint and, especially, to get to the top of the podium with teammates, including one who is one of my training partners,” he added, giving a lot of credit to Christopher Fiola, who won his very first medal skating in his second career World Cup stage.

“I wasn't expecting to come up with a medal so quickly!,” said Christopher Fiola, age 20. “The team was really good and it was a great race. I was a little nervous considering it was my first team race with those guys, but we worked on a good strategy and they prepared me well so that I knew exactly what to do during the race.”

Dubreuil and de Haître both pointed out Fiola's contribution, as the latter was skating in the team sprint event for the first time.

“He did have a very important role,” said Dubreuil. “By starting first, I set the pace for the team, but if Christopher, who was second, had lost of lot of speed, it would have been over because Vincent (de Haître) would have been unable to get that speed back although he's great in the role of last skater, maybe the best in the world to finish off the team sprint.”
 
De Haître gets confidence boost for team sprint
Earlier in the day, Vincent de Haître had been the top Canadian skater in the men's 1000m with a 6th-place finish in 1:09.33, followed by Alexandre St-Jean of Quebec City, QC, who, with a 7th-place finish, skated to his best result so far this season in a time of 1:09.420.

“I'm happy with my end result in the 1000m,” said de Haître. “Sixth place, that's the same result than last weekend and I feel I'm getting more consistent. I did see a few things I need to work on, like my stability in the corners and my top speed, but I think it will come with a little bit more practice. I'm glad I had my fastest opener of the season. It gave me some confidence going in the team sprint, knowing I would be able to have a strong start and that I would not have to chase my teammates down.”

In the women's 1000m B group, Kaylin Irvine of Calgary, AB, will be promoted to the A division at the race slated for the World Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan, after taking third place in Saturday's race with a time of 1:18.40. Béatrice Lamarche and Noémie Fiset of Quebec City respectively finished 13th and 16th.

“That's obviously what I was aiming for,” said Irvine. “It was an improvement from my previous races, but it wasn't a perfect race.  My focus was to be aggressive and to keep my tempo up, and I think I did that.”

In the men's 1000m B group, Laurent Dubreuil just missed qualifying for the A division by finishing fourth with a time of 1:10.24. Richard Maclennan of Sault Ste. Marie, ON, was 7th and Christopher Fiola, 8th.

In the team pursuit event, Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, AB, Jordan Belchos of Toronto, ON, and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., skated to 8th place (3:46.09). The Netherlands won the race (3:42.65), followed by South Korea (3:44.38) and New Zealand (3:45.03).

“It went better than last week, but we haven't fully executed a perfect race yet, all three of us,” said Denny Morrison. “We think there is a lot more there. The pack is really tight between third and eighth place. We talked as a team and we know what are some of the changes we need to make.  We need a few more races together and we will improve.”
 
In the mass start, Belchos and Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, QC, both qualified for Sunday's final. As did Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, ON, and Béatrice Lamarche on the women's side, although they did not have to skate in a semifinal race on Saturday.

Also skating on Sunday will be Marsha Hudey of White City, SK, Heather McLean of Winnipeg, MB, and Noémie Fiset as well as Laurent Dubreuil and William Dutton of Humboldt, SK, in the 500m A race, while Kaylin Irvine on the women's side and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix, Gilmore Junio of Calgary, AB, and Christopher Fiola on the men's side will be skating in the division B races.

Vincent de Haître, Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa, ON, and Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, AB, will be in action in the 1500m A division, as will Kaylin Irvine, Béatrice Lamarche, Denny Morrison and Richard Maclennan in the B division in that same distance.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

Team Sprint M
Canada: GOLD (1:20.52)
(Laurent Dubreuil, Christopher Fiola, Vincent de Haître)

1000m M (A)
6. Vincent de Haître (1:09.33)
7. Alexandre St-Jean (1:09.420)

Team Pursuit M
Canada: 8 (3:46.09)
(Ted-Jan Bloemen, Jordan Belchos, Denny Morrison)

Mass Start M (semifinals)
5. Olivier Jean (will take part in the final Sunday)
7. Jordan Belchos (will take part in the final Sunday)

1000m W (B)
3. Kaylin Irvine (1:18.40)
13. Béatrice Lamarche (1:19.58)
16. Noémie Fiset (1:20.36)

1000m M (B)
4. Laurent Dubreuil (1:10.24)
7. Richard Maclennan (1:10.52)
8. Christopher Fiola (1:10.61)

More details are available on 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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For information:
Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
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Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
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