Canadian team pursuit squads both skate to 5th place finishes at ISU World Cup Long Track stage in Heerenveen, Netherlands

Heerenveen, Netherlands, December 9, 2016 – The men's and women's team pursuit squads representing Canada at the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating stage held until Sunday in Heerenveen, Netherlands, came up with the country's top results of the day by finishing each in fifth place, and also by non-officially qualifying a spot for Canada in that event at the 2017 World Single Distance Championships.
 
On the men's side, after earning a silver medal in that event at last week's World Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan, Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, AB, Jordan Belchos of Toronto, ON, and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., took fifth place in Friday's team pursuit with a time of 3:44.62.

The gold medal went to Norway (3:42.43), which was paired with the Canadian trio, while silver went to the Netherlands (3:43.04) and bronze to Italy (3:43.53).

“Qualifying for the World Single Distance Championships was the most important thing for us today,” said Ted-Jan Bloemen. “We came up with a race plan, we stuck to it and we executed it very well while also communicating well.
 
“However, we’re also a little bit disappointed. We're a really strong team in team pursuit, we work well together and we want to fight for gold medals, not for a fifth place results. We’re really motivated to do better next time.”
 
His teammate Jordan Belchos also spoke about the importance of the 2017 World Single Distance Championships, which will be held February 9-12 in Gangneung, South Korea, on the same site where the long track speed skating events at the 2018 Olympic Games will be held.
 
“We know we're capable of becoming world champions in a few months,” said Jordan Belchos. “But this is just another step, and we need to continue to go step by step. We need to put the work in to get to the next level over the next few weeks.”

“I look at our team, at our time… We were in the fight for a top spot. However, I find that our team is the one that has the most potential to improve, whereas the other teams are already skating as well as they can,” said Denny Morrison. “We will become more cohesive as the season goes on, and also as the 2018 Olympics are approaching.”

In the women's team pursuit, Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa, ON, and Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, AB, also finished fifth, skating to a time of 3:04.49 in only their second race together. At last week's World Cup in Astana, the Canadian trio was unable to finish the race due to a fall.

Japan (2:59.51), Germany (3:02.47) and Poland (3:03.50) respectively finished first, second and third.
 
“It went well considering it was our second race together,” pointed out Ivanie Blondin. “We communicated really well today. We had some good times per lap. We also non-officially allowed Canada to qualify for a spot at this season's World Single Distance Championships thanks to our time which, I believe, also puts us in the group that will battle for a spot on the podium. There's no doubt there is still room for improvement, but we're not far from the level where we need to be to become a top-level team.”

Marsha Hudey 6th and Laurent Dubreuil 7th in 500m
In the only 500m event scheduled at this World Cup, Marsha Hudey of White City, SK, was the top Canadian with a sixth-place finish in 38.128. Heather McLean (38.39) of Winnipeg, MB, was 11th.
 
Japan's Nao Kodaira (37.69) and Maki Tsuji (37.97) respectively earned gold and bronze. China's Jing Yu (37.81) was second.
 
On the men's side, Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, QC, skated to a time of 34.94 to finish in seventh spot. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (35.018) of Sherbrooke, QC, was 13th.
 
Russia's Ruslan Murashov (34.50) won gold, followed by Poland's Artur Was (34.79) and American skater Mitchell Whitmore (34.81).
 
“I'm really happy to finish the fall World Cups on such a good note,” said Laurent Dubreuil. “I skated very well technically and I was really close to fifth place. It was a good way of finishing up in the 500m distance before Christmas. There's no doubt I want to be out there on the podium after each race. It didn't happen this fall, but I finished four times among the top-8 in six races. With this very good World Cup #5, I will probably move up among the top-5 in overall standings, which goes to show to what extent things are tight.
 
“Today, however, I think I lacked a bit of explosiveness. I had my best start so far this season at the World Cup level, but it wasn't as good as the guys in front of me. I think it's a bit normal to lack some explosiveness considering that we've been on the road for five weeks and a half. I'm starting to feel a bit tired.”
 
In the men's mass start semifinals, Christopher Fiola of Montréal, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough, QC, finished in 7th place. By finishing among the top eight, he qualified for Saturday's final.
 
In addition to the men's and women's mass start events, the 1500m and the team sprint races are slated for Saturday.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

Team Pursuit W
5. Canada (3:04.49)
(Brianne Tutt, Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann)

Team Pursuit M
5. Canada (3:44.62)
(Ted-Jan Bloemen, Jordan Belchos, Denny Morrison)

500m (A) W
6. Marsha Hudey (38.128)
11. Heather McLean (38.39)

500m (A) M
7. Laurent Dubreuil (34.94)
13. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (35.01)

500m (B) W
5. Kaylin Irvine (39.41)
13. Noémie Fiset (39.79)

500m (B) M
6. Alexandre St-Jean (35.42)
DQ Christopher Fiola
 
More details are available at 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
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Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
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