Dutton confident after seventh place showing at Essent ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships

Humboldt, Sask., skater among three Canadian men in top 10

William Dutton makes his final preparations for the Winter Olympic Games with continued optimism after a strong showing at the Essent ISU World Sprint Championships. Dutton placed seventh overall in the final event before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics begin on Feb. 7.

The Humboldt, Sask., native sat third after placing fifth and fourth in the opening 500m and 1000m races respectively on Saturday but slipped to 11th in the 500m (35.69 seconds) and eighth in 1000m (1:10.78) on Sunday.

“I learned some valuable lessons, the biggest one was that I can compete at a top level and potentially be a medal threat at the Olympic Games, so that made me very happy,” Dutton said. “The other lesson was if you’re in medal contention don’t do anything different, just skate the way that got you there. I finished seventh, which is my best finish internationally and to do that right before the Olympic Games makes me pretty confident. I feel like I’m going into the Games strong.”

Canada had three men in the top 10. Alexandre St-Jean of Quebec City was eighth and Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, Que., ninth.

The Sprint Championships involve an accumulation of points from two 500m races and two 1000m skates.

Michel Mulder of the Netherlands won the men’s World Sprint title. Shani Davis of the United States was second, followed by Daniel Greig of Australia.

Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., placed ninth overall in the women’s competition. She was 14th in the 500m and fifth in the 1000m on Sunday.

Jing Yu of China won the women’s title. Hong Zhang, also of China, was second. She was followed by Heather Richardson of the United States.

St-Jean had two strong skates on Sunday, finishing sixth in 500m in 35.45 and seventh in 1000m in 1:10.61.

Dubreuil recorded an impressive fourth in the 500m on Sunday in 35.34 to go with a 13th in the 1000m (1:11.06). The 21-year-old holds the World Junior men’s 500m record of 34.66, set Jan. 22, 2012 in Salt Lake City. Juniors are those 19-and-under as of July 1.

Tyler Derraugh of Winnipeg was 13th overall. He was 17th in Sunday’s 500m (35.95) and ninth in the 1000m (1:10.83.)

Results the Sprint Championships visit http://www.isuresults.eu/.