Canadian short trackers have talent for long track, posting best results at World Junior Championships

(Zakopane, Poland, February 20, 2009) – Canada’s best results at the World Junior Long Track Speed Skating Championships in Poland were posted by two of Canada’s best junior short track athletes, Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Quebec, QC) and Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON), with a second place finish in the 500m and tenth in the 1500m.

“I felt amazing because I didn’t know I could do this good. I was very happy,’’ said Blais-Dufour, 19, who raced the 500m today in 36.82 seconds for a second place finish. American Mitchell Whitmore was the only faster skater today in 36.44. “This is my first international long track competition and I just wanted to skate and have fun,” continued the young skater who finished 8th overall at the Short Track World Junior Championships just over a month ago.

Three more junior men were in the 500m; Richard MacLennan (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) and William Dutton (Humboldt, SK) made the top ten, with MacLennan seventh in 37.15 and Dutton tenth in 37.26. Scott Bickerton (Nelson, BC) was 52nd.

Blondin skated the 1500m in 2:07.95, the top result of the day for Canada’s junior women. Roxanne Van Hemert of the Netherlands won the race in 2:02.91, teammate Yvonne Nauta was 2nd in 2:05.28 and Russia’s Olga Fatkulina took third place in 2:05.54.

“I was really happy about my tenth place, but not happy with my time,” Blondin said about her race. “I was really nervous and I started off really hard. I used both my arms through the whole race, which I shouldn’t have done. I really wanted to go for it and in the last lap I died off a little bit. I could have done a little better.”

Blondin also competed in the World Junior Short Track Championships, finishing eighth overall, and helping her relay team to the silver medal.

“I am so happy with my junior year. It is a huge accomplishment for me and I am really happy about that,” added Blondin about competing in both the long and short track world junior events.

Blondin also raced in the 500m and placed 24th. Edmonton’s Sarah Gregg was the top Canadian in this distance in 16th place. She had the same rank in the 1500m. Brianne Tutt (Calgary, AB) finished the 1500m in 31st and the 500m in 45th, and Kate Hanly (Calgary, AB), who is only 15 years old, ranked 26th in the 500m and 33rd in the 1500m.

Canada’s best results in the men’s 3000m came from Bickerton, with a seventh place in 4:00.23. Blais-Dufour came in 14th and MacLennan was 27th.

Tomorrow competition continues in the second 500m for the men, to determine the overall winner in that distance, and men’s 1500m and 5000m. Women will race in the 1000m and 3000m.

Race results can be found on the event’s main web site at www.wjssch-zakopane2009.com.

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