Chinese continue to collect medals & Canada stays close to top 10 at University Games

Harbin, China - - Just like the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Chinese athletes are again leading the medal count at the 2009 Winter Universiade. Today, host-country speed skaters added four more medals to their tally in the women’s 3000m and men’s 100m, while Canada’s Justine L’Heureux (St. Tite, QC) and Philippe Riopel posted the best results for their country, ranking 12th and 14th.

China’s Chunyan Fu and Feifei Dong claimed first and second in the women’s 3000m, winning gold and silver medals in 4:15.73 and 4:16.33. Luiza Zlotkowska, from Poland, won bronze with her time of 4:18.03.

L’Heureux, 20, came 12th in 4:23.37 followed by teammates Shannon Sibold (Calgary, AB) and Kirsti Lay (Medicine Hat, AB), in 15th and 16th in 4:24.56 and 4:25.58, respectively.

“For Justine and Kirsti, it’s especially good because they haven’t been able to skate at full power for the last month or so,” said National Team Coach Gregor Jelonek, about today’s results. “I can imagine what the results may have been like if they were in top shape.”

Lay, 20, is still recovering from a shoulder injury. She raced in the 1500m yesterday, but was not able to skate on the first day of competition.

“My shoulder is doing better, it is still very tender though,” said Lay. “It feels really good to be able to race again after being injured for a couple of weeks. This was a solid race for me, and it was so close between ninth and 18th place and that’s pretty close for the 3000m.”

The women will compete in the 1000m (Feb. 25), 5000m (Feb. 24) and the team pursuit (Feb. 26) next week.

In the men’s 100m, Korea’s Kang Seok Lee, who is ranked fourth in the distance on the World Cup circuit, won the gold with his final race time of 9.61 seconds. China’s two medals, silver and bronze, were picked up by Yaolin Zhang and Fengtong Yu. The host country now has nine speed skating medals, and 17 medals total.

Riopel, 20, the lone Canadian to compete in the 100m, finished 14th, only racing in the quarter finals. He was happy with the result as it is not a distance he regularly competes in. His strongest race is the 1000m, which he will compete in on Feb. 24.

“Coming here, I wasn’t planning to do this race, but I qualified for it with my performance in the 500m. I’ve never done a 100m in competition before, so it was great to get the chance to do it,” said Riopel. “This meet is a really big deal for the Asian countries and they sent a team that is heavy with sprinters, so it’s not surprising to see them at the top of the standings.”

The Universiade is an international multi-sport event, organized for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). This is the first time Canada has participated in long track speed skating at the Winter Universiade.

Results are updated on the Universiade web site at http://en.harbin2009.org/

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