Ivanie Blondin, Christopher Fiola & Keri Morrison qualify for Fall World Cups in mass start

They join prequalified skater Olivier Jean; David La Rue sets a new Canadian junior record in the 1500m

Calgary, October 22, 2017 – Keri Morrison, Ivanie Blondin and Christopher Fiola joined Olivier Jean on the Canadian team for the women's and men's mass start events to be held at the Fall World Cups, while David LaRue set a new Canadian junior record in the men's 1500m, Sunday, on the fourth and last day of the Long Track Fall World Cup Selections held at Calgary's Olympic Oval.
 
Ivanie Blondin from Ottawa, ON, won the second women’s mass start held Sunday, to finish first in overall standings in front of Keri Morrison from Burlington, ON, who won the first race held Saturday, October 14, ahead of Blondin. Tied with 180 points each, the combined times from both races determined Blondin as the overall winner.
 
Ivanie Blondin and Keri Morrison therefore took the two spots that have been awarded to Canada at the Fall World Cups in the women's mass start.
 
On the men’s side, Montrealer Christopher Fiola won Sunday's mass start race as he did on Saturday, October 14, and therefore finished first overall with 200 points, way ahead of Jordan Belchos, from Markham, ON (80 pts). He joins Olivier Jean, from Lachenaie, QC, who had already prequalified after winning bronze in this event at last season's World Single Distance Championships. Jean did not race at the Fall World Cup Selections.
 
Blondin, Fiola, Jean and Morrison will now vye to personally qualify for the Olympic Games by finishing in the top 16 in the Special Olympic Qualification Classification (SOQC) following the four Fall World Cups. First place spots would go to Blondin and Jean and the second spots to Fiola and Morrison if each of these four skaters finishes in the top 16 in the SOQC.
 
“This is the first time I've qualified for World Cups, this is really exciting! I can't wait to see what the season will bring,” said Morrison, who admitted that coming over from short track in 2014-2015 gives her an edge in the mass start. “I'm familiar with skating in a pack – I know when to move and how to move. Still, I haven't been at it at long track for that long, so every day and every week, I keep working at my long track technique.”
 
“Today's mass start, as opposed to last week's, had more of a pace like we see at the World Cup”, said Blondin. “The girls worked well together to make sure the pace was faster, even earlier on in the race, which worked out to my advantage I think.”
 
“I was nervous this morning after having had a hard time in the other events this week, especially in the 1000m, but I managed to skate a smart race,” said Fiola. “I stayed behind for a while and then, I moved up at the right time. When I found myself skating ahead a few feet from the finish line, I couldn't believe it was happening!”
 
A record by David La Rue, the 1500m wins to Vincent De Haître and Ivanie Blondin
In the men’s 1500m, David La Rue from Saint-Lambert, QC, improved on the Canadian junior record by skating to a time of 1:45.16 to break the previous mark of 1:45.68 set by Ben Donnelly on March 20, 2016.
 
“I really didn't expect this,” said La Rue, who turned 19 in August. “I just wanted to have the best race possible and it turned out to be a Canadian junior record. It must have taken me something like 10 minutes before it really hit me. And even better, it makes be eligible to be on the Canadian team for the World Cups, so I couldn't be happier.”
 
Vincent De Haître from Cumberland, ON, won the event with a time of 1:43.56 to improve his old personal best that stood at 1:44.27. He therefore finished ahead of Denny Morrison from Fort St. John, B.C. (1:44.16), Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu from Sherbrooke, QC (1:44.32, a new personal best), David La Rue from Saint-Lambert, QC (1:45.16, a new personal best and a new Canadian junior record), Ben Donnelly from Oshawa, ON (1:45.60) and Tyson Langelaar from Winnipeg, MB (1:46.70).
 
The six skaters all met the required time standard of 1:46.72, but Canada was awarded a maximum of four spots in the men's 1500m at the Fall World Cups. Vincent De Haître had already prequalified in this event after finishing fourth in that distance at last season's World Single Distance Championships.
 
“I would have liked to do a couple of things differently, but overall that was the race I wanted to skate,” said De Haître. “Three skaters in the pairs before me came within one tenth of a second of my personal best, so I knew I was going to have to be at my best today. And I don't think I could have done much better than that – seven tenths better than my personal best, those kinds of times don't come that often. This brings me closer to my goal of setting Canadian records and moving towards world record times someday.”
 
Ivanie Blondin won the women’s 1500m in a race where five skaters met the time criteria of 1:57.40 required to be eligible for selection at the Fall World Cups. A maximum of four spots have been awarded to Canada in this event.
 
Blondin skated to a time of 1:55.48 to finish ahead of two skaters who set new personal bests on Sunday – Brianne Tutt from Airdrie, AB (1:55.62) and Isabelle Weidemann from Ottawa, ON (1:56.52). Kali Christ from Regina, SK and Keri Morrison followed in fourth and fifth place in 1:56.70 and 1:57.26, respectively.
 
“Obviously I felt better today after being a little sick early on in the week, which had an impact on my races at the start of the competition,” pointed out Blondin.
 
Because only a total of 20 athletes will be selected on the Canadian team for the Fall World Cups, except for the stage that will be held in Calgary, these are provisional qualifications at this point except the four athletes in mass start. The final team will be announced over the next few weeks.
 
More details are available on Speed Skating Canada's website atwww.speedskating.ca.

About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, SSC is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial associations. Speed Skating Canada is committed to Challenge and Inspire Canada to Thrive through the power of Speed Skating. 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. www.speedskating.ca

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Patrick Godbout
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