Junio, Dubreuil & McLean an eyelash away from a podium in the 500m at ISU World Cup Long Track in Norway

STAVANGER, Norway, January 29, 2016 – Gilmore Junio of Calgary and Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, QC finished fourth and fifth in the weekend's first 500m race, one hundredth of a second away from a bronze medal, while Heather McLean of Winnipeg, MB was fifth in the women's 500m, seven hundredths of a second away from a podium, Friday, on the first day of the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating event held in Stavanger, Norway.

On the men's side, Junio and Dubreuil skated to times of 34.88 (6) and 34.88 (7) respectively, while the bronze medal winner, Kai Verbij of the Netherlands, finished the race in 34.87. Pavel Kulizhnikov (34.71) won the race ahead of his Russian countryman Ruslan Murashov (34.74), who was second.

For the first time this season, no Canadian ended up on the podium in a men's 500 race.

Junio and Dubreuil, as well as Alex St-Jean of Québec City, QC, who was 14th in Friday's 500m with a time of 35.11, are battling for the third and last spot available in the 500m at the World Single Distance Championships, which will take place February 11-14 in Kolomna, Russia. The skater who comes up with the fastest combined time of the weekend's two 500m races, aside from Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, QC, and William Dutton of Humboldt, SK, who are already qualified thanks to their performances at the Fall World Cups, will be awarded the third available spot.

“It was a good race, but it's too bad we saw our streak of Canadian men on the 500m podium end here today,” said Gilmore Junio. “Obviously it's a big deal to represent Canada at the World Single Distance Championships and that magnifies the importance of our skate off. It's very competitive and each of us wants to win but at the end of the day, I'll rest easy knowing the fastest person will end up going. Our team has performed so well internationally that whoever represents us in Kolomna, that skater has a chance to be on the podium and that's what it's all about.”

“To be so close to the podium again today hurts,” admitted Laurent Dubreuil. “But I put myself in good position to earn a spot at the World Single Distance Championships in two weeks. It's going to come down to Sunday! I'm looking forward to compete with Gilmore, may the best man win!”

Friday, Dutton was 10th in 35.02 while Boisvert-Lacroix, the top Canadian in overall 500m World Cup standings so far this season, took 19th place in 35.30.

“I had a very bad race, the kind you want to forget as soon as possible so you can move on,” admitted Alex Boisvert-Lacroix. “I didn't skate well technically and my energy level was low. I will try to make it up in Sunday's 500m.”

In the women's 500m, Heather McLean finished fifth with a time of 38.06 in the division A race. Her teammate Marsha Hudey of White City, SK, was 12th (38.58). Chinese skaters Hong Zhang (37.82) and Jing Yu (37.93) finished first and second, followed by Jorien ter Mors (37.99) of the Netherlands.

McLean and Hudey are already qualified in this distance for the World Single Distance Championships following their results at last fall's World Cup stages.

“I'm happy with fifth place, but most of all I was really happy to get back into this kind of environment and level of intensity,” said Heather McLean. “But I still have things I can work on.”

In the B division, Olympic medalist Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg came closer to clinching the third and last spot available in the 500m distance at the World Single Distance Championships by coming up with the fastest time in the weekend's first race, as her time of 38.99 allowed her to finish fifth in the B event.

In this case as well, the skater with the fastest combined time will earn the third available spot at the World Single Distance Championships. Aside from Rempel, Olympians Anastasia Bucsis and Kaylin Irvine of Calgary are also vying for this spot.

Ben Donnelly qualifies for Kolomna
In the men's 1500m, Ben Donnelly of Oshawa, ON was fourth in the B race with a time of 1:48.35.

By being the top Canadian in this distance this weekend, aside from Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, ON, who was 14th in 1:48.76 in Friday's A race and who has already clinched a spot at the World Single Distance Championships, Donnelly earned his ticket for Russia.

“It's a great feeling, I'm really happy about it,” said the 19-year-old skater, all smiles.

“I'm also quite happy with my race today. I was focusing on the start, which was my weak point at the beginning of the season. But I've worked on it really hard to gain speed, and I was able to get a good opener today.”

In the women's 1000m, Kaylin Irvine of Calgary was 18th in 1:18.36 in the A race. In the B category, Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, AB, finished 10th with a time of 1:18.35. Kali Christ of Regina, SK, and Bucsis respectively ended up 14th (1:18.97) and 16th (1:19.36).

On Saturday, the women's 500m and 1500m events will take place, as well as the men's 1000m and 5000m.

The list of skaters who will be on the Canadian teams at the three World Championships will be announced following World Cup #5.

More details are available on Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m (1) M – A
4: Gilmore Junio – 34.886
5: Laurent Dubreuil – 34.887
10: William Dutton – 35.02
14: Alexandre St-Jean – 35.11
19: Alex Boisvert-Lacroix – 35.30

500m (1) W – A
5: Heather McLean – 38.06
12: Marsha Hudey – 38.58

1500m M - A
14: Vincent de Haître : 1:48.76

1000m (1) W - A
18: Kaylin Irvine : 1:18.36

500m (1) W - B
5: Shannon Rempel – 38.99
8: Kaylin Irvine – 39.13
12: Anastasia Bucsis – 39.34

1000m (1) W – B
10: Brianne Tutt – 1:18.35
14: Kali Christ – 1:18.97
16: Anastasia Bucsis – 1:19.36

1500m M – B
4: Ben Donnelly – 1:48.35
12: Ted-Jan Bloemen – 1:49.02
21: Olivier Jean – 1:49.75
31: Nick Goplen – 1:51.44
   
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.

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For information:
Patrick Godbout
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Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
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Phone: 403-589-8960
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