Canada’s youngest team members just three spots from medals & claim a ninth place at World Junior Championships

Zakopane, Poland –- At just 17 and 15 years old, Richard MacLennan (Sault Ste.Marie) and Kate Hanly (Calgary, AB) represented Canada in their first international competition and did their country proud, with MacLennan adding a sixth place finish in the 1000m to his silver medal from Saturday, and Hanly racing to ninth place in the 500m.

“I was pretty happy with my race overall, but there were some parts I could have improved,” said MacLennan, who finished the race in 1:12.97, missing a bronze medal by .27 seconds. ”My start was a little slow and I should have been more aggressive on the first corner, then my overall time would have been a little faster.”

Jan Daldossi, of Italy, won the race in 1:12.35, followed by American Jonathan Kuck in 1:12.43 and Kazakhstan’s Roman Krech in third in 1:12.70.

In the women’s second 500m race, Hanly, the youngest member of Canada’s junior team, raced an amazing time of 41.27 seconds. She came ninth in today’s race and ranked 13th in the 500m with her combined time of 83.280.

“The sun came out today and I felt good and I wanted to go and try to do my best,” said Hanly who trains with the Calgary Speed Skating Association and coach Jack Walters. “I was a lot more relaxed and feeling confident. For the entire competition I was more nervous and felt a lot of pressure for some reason. Today I raced and just had fun,” she explained about the difference between her first and last races of the weekend.

Edmonton’s Sarah Gregg, the Canadian junior champion, finished the 500m with a combined time of 83.200, just ahead of Hanly, in 12th place. Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) had a better 500m today, coming in 13th place and finishing 15th overall with a combined result of 83.940.

Winners of the combined distance were Russia’s Olga Fatkulina, with gold, Jee-Min Ahn, of Korea, with silver and Japan’s Yukana Nishina with the bronze medal.

Finishing out the men’s 1000m, William Dutton (Humboldt, SK) skated the distance in 1:14.84, finishing 13th. Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Montreal, QC), Saturday’s bronze medalist in the 500m, finished 29th. He slipped in the first 300m and stood up for the rest of the race, giving him a time of 1:18.07.

The last events of the day were the team pursuit races. Canada’s men finished ninth and the women came seventh.

“I thought the girls did really well, they finished better than they expected. The guys were a bit more disappointed with their result,” said Canadian junior head coach Crispin Parkinson. “The guys went out well, but fast, so they died by the end. We were expecting a better result, but this was their first race together, so I was pleased with their effort.”

The three men in the junior team pursuit were MacLennan, Blais-Dufour and Scott Bickerton (Nelson, BC). They finished the 3200m race in 4:07.40. The winners were the Netherlands in 4:00.91, Germany in 4:02.68 and Italy in 4:03.00.

The women’s team included Gregg, Brianne Tutt (Calgary, AB) and Blondin, who finished the 2400m race in 3:24.05. The Dutch women won gold with a time of 3:17.18. Second and third place were taken by Team Japan and Korea in 3:19.45 and 3:19.84.

“This was an awesome experience,” added MacLennan about the weekend. “It was pretty cool, meeting people from all around the world and it was definitely a growing experience. I will learn a lot from it.”

Hanly will have the chance to qualify for the World Junior Championships for another four years, before she turns 20. MacLennan will have another two seasons in junior competition.

The team will return to Canada on Monday. Race results can be found on the event’s main web site at www.wjssch-zakopane2009.com.

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