Heather McLean wins 500m & 1000m titles with personal bests at Canadian Single Distance Long Track Championships

Calgary, January 5, 2016 – Heather McLean of Winnipeg and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, QC, dominated the 500m field and won the overall title in that event, Tuesday, on the third day of Speed Skating Canada’s Canadian Single Distance Long Track Championships held at the Calgary Olympic Oval until Wednesday. McLean also won the 1000m, as did Vincent de Haître from Cumberland, ON, who kept his crown in the men’s event.
 
In the second 500m event of the competition, Heather McLean repeated her performance from the day before by winning the gold, with a new personal best time of 37.34. She improved on her old time by over two tenths of a second. Kaylin Irvine of Calgary, also with a new personal best of 37.98, and Olympian Shannon Rempel (38.08), of Winnipeg, finished second and third.
 
“The personal best is definitely what I am most happy with, and it’s a step in the right direction. Being Canadian Champion in the 500m is just the icing on top of the birthday cake I had yesterday,” said Heather McLean, who turned 23 on Monday.
 
McLean also went on to win the 1000m event with yet another personal best time, 1:15.63, which was three tenths of a second faster than her previous personal record. Kali Christ (1:15.90) of Regina, SK, took second spot, followed by Irvine (1:16.46).
 
“I think a big part of my improvement is because I’ve been open to learning new things at every practice throughout the whole year,” explained McLean.

“Every day I show up with something on my mind and I leave knowing that I learned something. I think with the rest of the women stepping it up this week, it really pushed me to skate harder. It’s inspiring and makes me want to do better as well,” added McLean, who won her first-ever World Cup medal last fall, a bronze medal in the 500m at World Cup #3 in Inzell, Germany.
 
Shannon Rempel, a 2006 Olympic silver medalist in the team pursuit event, is also showing great results following a year off.
 
“I had a season’s best,” she said of her third-place finish in Tuesday's 500m. “I’m happy with how the season is progressing. I guess it was a good thing to take a year away from skating. My body needed a rest. I need to get some of my strength back and be comfortable with the speed, and I think I can go a lot faster than that.”
 
Boisvert-Lacroix crowned men’s 500m champion
In the men’s 500m, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix won his second 500m race of the competition, with a time of 34.52, to finish first in the final cumulative 500m results. This is the 28-year-old skater's first-ever national title, after he switched over from short track in the 2010-2011 season.
 
Just like in Monday's 500m, Gilmore Junio (34.54) of Calgary and Laurent Dubreuil (34.66) of Lévis, QC, were also on the podium with Boisvert-Lacroix, finishing respectively second and third.
 
“I was head to head with Gilmore Junio at the end and that pushed me to the line to finish as strong as I could. I’m happy with my title of Canadian Champion. It’s my first one and it’s really nice,” said Boisvert-Lacroix.
 
As are Heather McLean, Marsha Hudey of White City, SK, and William Dutton of Humboldt, SK, Boisvert-Lacroix is prequalified in the 500m for the next World Cup in Stavanger, Norway, January 29-31, 2016, and for the World Single Distance Championships in Kolomna, Russia, February 11-14, 2016. Boisvert-Lacroix will be skating in his first-ever World Single Distance Championships.
 
“It’s crazy because these will be my first World Championships. When the season started, we were all really competitive and really tight. It’s great to be prequalified because I can focus on the Championships and do what I have to do to be at my best,” said Boisvert-Lacroix.
 
Team Canada will send up to three more men and women to World Cup #5 where they will face off for the third and final spot Canada has in the World Single Distance Championships.
 
Rounding off the final cumulative 500m results was McLean, first, followed by Irvine, Rempel, Marsha Hudey of White City, SK, as well as 2010 and 2014 Olympian Anastasia Bucsis of Calgary. On the men’s side, Junio was second, Dubreuil, third, Alexandre St-Jean of Quebec City, fourth, and Dutton, fifth.
 
Vincent de Haître keeps his 1000m title
Vincent de Haître of Ottawa remains Canada’s top male in the 1000m event after being crowned Canadian champion in Tuesday’s race with a time of 1:07.92. He was also crowned in last year’s competition while also finishing first at the 2014 Olympic trials.
 
Alexandre St-Jean (1:08.02) took second spot, and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (1:08.61) was third.
 
“Overall, finishing under 1:08 is a silver lining, but it’s not in line with what I believe I can do,” said de Haître. “I’m glad that it’s my third 1000m National Championships victory. Three’s a pattern and I hope it continues. It started my first year senior and all my National Championships as a senior have led to victories. It makes me look forward to continuing this tradition.”
 
De Haître and St-Jean are both prequalified for World Cup #5 as well as for the World Single Distance Championships. Team Canada will send up to three additional athletes to World Cup #5 in the distance, where they will battle for the last remaining spot in the World Single Distance Championships.
 
Richard MacLennan of Sault Ste.Marie, ON, and Gilmore Junio were fourth and fifth in Tuesday’s event. 
 
In the women’s 1000m, Canada can send up to five skaters to World Cup #5 and have only one spot in the World Single Distance Championships. There are no prequalified skaters. Following McLean, Christ and Irvine on the podium Tuesday were Anastasia Bucsis and Shannon Rempel.
 
Speed Skating Canada will announce the final roster of the Canadian Team for the World Cup #5 following the Canadian Single Distance Championships.
 
On Wednesday, the 1500m and mass start events will be held on what will be the last day of the 2016 World Single Distance Championships and Canada Cup #2. Competitions can be watched live through Calgary Olympic Oval webcast: https://www.youtube.com/user/theolympicoval.
 
Podiums from Tuesday’s competition:
 
Canadian Single Distance Championships
500m (2) M
1. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (34.52)
2. Gilmore Junio (34.54)
3. Laurent Dubreuil (34.66)
 
500m (1) W
1. Heather McLean (37.34)
2. Kaylin Irvine (37.98)
3. Shannon Rempel (38.08)
 
1000m W
1. Heather McLean (1:15.63)
2. Kali Christ (1:15.90)
3. Kaylin Irvine (1:16.46)
 
1000m M
1. Vincent de Haître (1:07.92)
2. Alexandre St-Jean (1:08.02)
3. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (1:08.61)
 
Canada Cup #2
500m (2) M
1. Tian Yu, CHN (36.07)
2. Chen Zengqiang, CHN (36.24)
3. Jerome Detuncq, QC (36.52)
------
5. Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (36.58)
6. Lucas Morin, SK (36.68)
 
500m (2) W
1. Li Dan, CHN (39.54)
2. Shi Xiao Xuan, CHN (39.74)
3. Béatrice Lamarche, QC (40.11)
------
5. Julia Roth, AB (40.48)
6. Maddison Pearman, AB (40.51)
 
1000m (2) M
1. Lucas Morin, SK (1:11.98)
2. Eirik Nergaard, NOR (1:12.00)
3. Jess Neufeld, MB (1:12.15)
------
5. Jean-Christopher Lataille, AB (1:13.13)
 
1000m (2) W
1. Béatrice Lamarche, QC (1:19.09)
2. Abigail Mccluskey, B.C. (1:19.59)
3. Keri Morrison, ON (1:20.49)
 
More information, including full schedule and a link to the results, can be found on Speed Skating Canada’s website: 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 and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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Patrick Godbout
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Kerry Dankers
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