Canadian women finish off University Games with 6th place in Team Pursuit

Harbin, China - - Canada’s Justine L’Heureux (St. Tite, QC), Kirsti Lay (Medicine Hat, AB) and Shannon Sibold (Calgary, AB) put together their very first team pursuit, racing 2400m around Harbin’s long track ice in 3:13.45 to finish in sixth place in their last event at the 24th Winter Universiade in China.

"It's the first time we've skated together in the pursuit, and it went pretty well. Our exchanges were good and the pace was good too," said L’Heureux. All three women have trained and competed in team pursuit races, but this competition was their first time with each other.

"The last lap was very tough because the legs were very heavy and tired. It's been a long week and we're getting really tired, but I thought we did a good job today. It's unfortunate we just missed a chance to skate for a medal, but that's been the way it's gone all week," she added.

The Canadian women raced in both the heats and finals today, also coming 6th in the heats with a time of 3:12.64, just .18 second difference to the Netherlands one spot ahead. In the finals, L’Heureux, Lay and Sibold were paired with the Dutch team, who were able to increase their gap time on Canada to take 5th place, with Canada 6th in 3:13.45 and the Dutch again in 5th in 3:10.64.

"The top two teams were way in front of the group. Then it was three or four team all within a second or two of each other,” described L’Heureux about the heats. “We were right on the edge of getting into the top-four, and we have to be happy with that."

The winners of the women’s team pursuit were China, with Universiade medalists Dong Feifei, Ji Jia and Fu Chunyan, clearing almost a 5 second gap between themselves and Korea, who came second to win silver. China finished in 3:07.38 and Korea in 3:12.37. Poland won bronze in 3:08.97.

Canada’s men did not compete in the team pursuit or the 10,000m race yesterday, but returned home.

L’Heureux, who attends CEGEP, also had good results yesterday in the 1000m, when she finished in 9th place in 1:19.59. Lay and Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary, AB) stayed in the top 20, finishing in 16th and 17th spots, and Sibold 24th.

Canada’s four speed skating women, along with Philippe Riopel (Lachenaie, QC), Vincent Blouin (Quebec, QC), Keith Sulzer (Calgary, AB) and Mykola Makowsky (Regina, SK), were the first team of long track athletes to compete for their county at the Winter Universiade.

Complete results are available at http://app.harbin2009.org/wu24info/schedule.shtml.

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