Guillaume Blais-Dufour & Sarah Gregg each take two gold at Canadian Junior Long Track Championships

Canada’s best junior skaters have converged to the Richmond Olympic Oval this weekend for the Canadian Junior Championships. The Championships will be use to select the four Canadians to represent the Country at the 2009 World Junior Championships later this February in Zakopane, Poland. The Canada Cup #2 is held jointly with the event for skaters to earn points towards their Canadian rankings in order to be selected on next year’s National or Development Team.

In the junior side, Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Québec, QC), who skated in the Short Track World Junior Championship in Sherbrooke, QC, just a few weeks ago, won both the 500m and 1000m races. The athlete’s goal this season was to skate in both World Junior Championships, and he’s on the right path. He took the gold in the 500m thanks to a time of 36.87 seconds. Ontarian Richard MacLennan took silver in 36.90 and William Dutton of Saskatchewan was third in 37.01.

“The 500m went really well. In long track you race for times, and I thought that my time wasn’t good enough to win. I quickly realized that I did pretty good. Before the 3000m, one of my blades broke, so I had to borrow one and ended up skating on two different blades, but even with that I ended 4th,” said Blais-Dufour at the end of the day. “I am more of a short track skater. I made the Junior Short Track team twice for Worlds. I hope to do the same with the junior long track this time around”.

The young skater is not holding back on efforts to make the world championships team. He won the 1000m with a time of 1:12.12, over four seconds faster than the silver medalist, Laurent Dubreuil (Québec, QC), who crossed the line in 1:16.34. The bronze medal went to Alberta’s Kevin Plante (1:16.73).

The 3000m title was claimed by Scott Bickerton of BC thanks to a time of 3:58.44. Leo Landry of Ontario was second with a time of 4:00.29 and British-Colombia’s Ellis Jordan was third, crossing the line in 4:01.75.

On the women’s side, Sarah Gregg (Edmonton, AB) also took two gold medals, in the 500m and 1500m. In the 500m, Gregg took first place with a time of 41.04 seconds, a time that was tied by Marsha Hudey of Saskachewan. Third place was awarded to Kate Hanly of Alberta thanks to a time of 41.36.

“The 500m was great. I had a fast opener. In the 1500m, I did exactly what I wanted to. I gave it all I had. I think was really relaxed and I focused on what I needed to do. I just had fun racing and I am now looking forward to my next races,” said Gregg, who’s following on the steps of two older siblings. Brother Jamie was 7th today in the 500m at the Erfurt World Cup, and sister Jessica is heading to the next stop of the Short Track World Cup Circuit next weekend. Sarah Gregg is one of the only two skaters who were at the World Junior Championships last year who are still eligible to go this time around.

In the 1500m, she clinched first place with a time of 2:06.27. Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON), who was also at the Short Track World Junior Championships earlier this month, took the silver medal, skating the distance in 2:07.29. Brianne Tutt was third, finishing 2 seconds behind Blondin with a time of 2:09.09.
For the Canada Cup# 2, the Iadies’ 500m podium was swept by Albertan skaters. Anastasia Bucsis who skated the distance in 40.51 seconds took gold, followed by Kelsey Duffield in 40.54 and Tobey Berriault who crossed the line in 41.05.

Duffield went on to take gold in the 1500m, thanks to a time of 2:04.03. Nicole Garrido (Edmonton, AB) was second, completing the distance in 2 :04.11. Third place went to Justine L’Heureux (Ste-Tite, QC) who was 0.19 second slower then Garrido.

On the men side, Jeong-Hyun Lee of Alberta finished first in the 500m. Lee skated the distance in 36.43. Brock Miron (Cornwall, ON) came in second with a time of 36.45 and Philippe Riopel (Lachenaie, QC) completed the podium by skating a 36.69.

Alexandre Garant (Québec, QC) took gold in the 1000m with a time of 1:11.95. Riopel took the silver, finishing 0.05 seconds after his teammate, and Miron took the bronze in 1:12.33.

The event continues tomorrow with the women’s 1000m and 3000m and the men’s 1500m and 5000m.