Canadian junior speed skaters take top spots at Olympic Oval’s North American Championships

Canadian junior speed skater Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) skated a personal best time to win the junior 1500m distance while Richard MacLennan (Sault Ste Marie, ON) was the top Canadian in the junior 500m and 1000m at today’s North American Speed Skating Championships at the Olympic Oval.

“I am really happy with my race and I feel that my technique is getting smoother,” said Blondin, 18, part of Canada’s 2014 Team in short track skating. This weekend is only her second long track competition in almost six years.

“I saw that Guillaume Blais-Dufour (also a short track skater) decided to skate at the Canada Cup #2 (long track event last weekend), and I thought I would try it too. I still can’t believe I qualified for the World Junior Championships. It is the biggest accomplishment of my career so far; that I was able to qualify for both the short track and long track World Junior Championships in the same season.”

Just last month, Blondin competed in the World Junior Short Track Championships in Sherbrooke and earned a silver medal in the relay and was eighth overall. Today she skated the 1500m in 1:59.58, winning the junior race and shaving more than seven seconds off her previous best time from last weekend. Sarah Gregg, who also qualified for the World Junior Championships, came second in 2:00.71, and American skater Mia Manganello was third in 2:01.47.

In other junior races today, Blondin placed fourth in the 500m in 40.25 seconds. The top three spots in that race went to Kaylin Irvine (40.09), Gregg (40.13) and Marsha Hudey (40.14).

In junior men’s competition MacLennan, 17, who now trains at the Olympic Oval,

Richard MacLennan, Photo: Arno Hoogveld
was the top Canadian in both the 500 and 1000m, coming in second after American Mitchell Whitmore. MacLennan was the top allround junior last weekend and qualified for thSydney00!e World Junior Championships in Poland, Feb. 20-22, as well.

“This is the last time I will skate in Calgary this season, so I am hoping to skate personal bests in every distance this weekend,” said MacLennan who will miss the last Olympic Oval competition of the season, the ING Finale, in March. He was close today, but is looking forward to Sunday when he will skate both the 500 and 1000m again in hopes of skating faster than 35.79 seconds and 1:10.89.

Also part of Canada’s World Junior Championship team are William Dutton and Guillaume Blais-Dufour. Dutton was third in the junior 1000m in 1:11.04 and Blais-Dufour was third in the junior 500m in 36.24 seconds.

In the last competition of the day, the junior men’s 3000m, Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu, from Quebec, Laurence Drucker, from the United States, and Leo Landry, from Ontario, finished first, second and third in 3:50.59, 3:56.13 and 3:56.34 respectively.

More than 240 skaters are competing this weekend in the 2009 North American Championships, with senior and junior skaters hoping to win races and earn points towards qualifying for next year’s National and Development Teams.

“I am hoping to do really well this weekend and at the World Juniors. I want to finish in the top eight at that event and qualify for the National Development Team next year,” added MacLennan about his goals for the rest of the season.

In senior competition, National Development Team skater Philippe Riopel won the 1000m in 1:09.11, with 2006 Canadian Olympian Brock Miron in second in 1:09.42 and Development Team skater Alexandre Garant third in 1:09.43. In the 500m, Miron was first in 35.41 seconds with Jeong-Hyun Lee second in 35.54 and Riopel third in 35.55 seconds.

In ladies senior races Danielle Wotherspoon (Canadian National Team), Kelsey Duffield (Canadian National Development Team) and Anastasia Bucsis were the top three in the 500m and Nicole Garrido (Canadian National Team), Duffield and American Jilleanne Rookard were the top three in the 1500m.

Tomorrow racing continues in the ladies 1000m, men’s 5000m, ladies 3000m and men’s 1500m. Complete race results will be available at http://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