Canada’s Philippe Riopel & Kelsey Duffield win 1000m races at Olympic Oval’s North American Championships

Calgary, AB - - Canadian National Development Team speed skaters Philippe Riopel and Kelsey Duffield won today’s 1000m races and overall titles, both setting personal best times and Riopel skating the fastest 1000m race of the season at the 2009 North American Championships at the Olympic Oval.

“I was very tired this morning and I didn’t think I could do this,” said Duffield, 23, (Red Deer, AB). She won the senior ladies 1000m competition this weekend after skating today’s race in 1:17.64. Nationally, she has won the most 1000m races this season.

American skater Kelly Gunther came second to Duffield in 1:19.06. Olympic Oval speed skater Crystal Phillips skated a personal best time of 1:19.60 to come third.

Riopel (Lachenaie, QC), 20, was first in the senior men’s 1000m race in 1:08.27 and secured the overall title this weekend (combined results from both 1000m races of this competition).

“This was my fastest opener (first 100m), my fastest first lap, and almost a .30 second personal best, I am really happy with this race,” said Riopel. “Winning today helps a lot for my national ranking as well. Last weekend when I was racing in Richmond, BC, I felt like I was missing a gear, this weekend I am feeling good.”

Riopel is part of Canada’s long track team going to China to compete in the FISU Games with National Development teammates Mykola Makowsky, Justine L’Heureux, Shannon Sibold, Kirsti Lay, Olympic Oval skaters Anastasia Bucsis, Keith Sulzer and Quebec skater Vincent Blouin.

“We hope there will be world cup skaters competing,” said Riopel who is looking forward to his first international competition this winter. He competed in four World Cups in Nov. and Dec. 2008. “With this pb (personal best time) today, it is a good confidence boost.”

In the rest of today’s senior competition, National Team skater Danielle Wotherspoon was first in the 500m in 39.62, Duffield was second in 39.68 and Bucsis lowered her personal best time for third place in 39.74 seconds.

In the men’s 500m Brock Miron, on the National Team, was first in 35.34 seconds and first overall, winning the gold medal for the weekend. In the 1000m, Miron was third in 1:09.34 and National Development Team athlete Alexandre Garant was second in 1:09.10.

In junior competition Richard MacLennan (Sault Ste Marie, ON) won the junior men’s 500m in 35.35 seconds, coming close to the Canadian junior record of 35.34 held by Riopel and tying Riopel’s second place senior time.

“I was hoping to get the Canadian junior record this weekend, but I am not too disappointed because I can still do it next year,” said MacLennan, 17, who will be eligible to compete as a junior until he is 19 years old.

In junior ladies competition, Sarah Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was again dominant, winning the ladies 1000m today and the overall junior title for the competition. Her time was 1:18.51 and a personal best, more than .20 seconds faster than her race yesterday.

“I found out this morning that Jess won the gold medal (at the Short Track World Cup, 500m).I was excited about that and it got me pumped up for my race. I am really proud of her,” said Sarah, 19. Her older sister Jessica is competing in the short track World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria this weekend and won her first individual world cup gold medal.

In long distance racing, Olympic Oval athletes took the top two spots in the ladies 5000m; Madeline Martin and Keara Maguire were first and second in 7:23.36 and 7:23.75. Third place went to National Development Team skater Shannon Sibold in 7:29.47.

In the men’s 10,000m the top three winners set amazing personal best times; Stefan Waples came first in 13:36.26, with a 20 second personal best, National Development Team athlete Peter Martel was second in 13:36.65, a 27 second personal best, and Andrew Godbout was third in 13:42.63, a nine second personal best.

Complete race results are available at www.oval.ucalgary.ca/results/long_track

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For more information contact:
Bridget Cox
Communications Specialist
Olympic Oval
Phone: (403) 210.8568
Cell: (403) 389.7739
Email: bcox@ucalgary.ca