Laurent Dubreuil wins gold, Ivanie Blondin & Vincent De Haître collect silver in the Netherlands

Blondin also obtains her prequalification status for the 2018 Olympics

Heerenveen, Netherlands, November 11, 2017 – Laurent Dubreuil came up with his first-ever individual gold medal on the World Cup circuit as he won the men's 500m while Vincent De Haître won his first career World Cup medal in the 1500m distance, a silver, and Ivanie Blondin also collected silver in the women's mass start, Saturday, on the second day of the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating stage to be held until Sunday in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.

Winning the silver medal means Ivanie Blondin has prequalified for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, providing that Canada qualifies at least one spot in this event by having one skater finish among the top 16 in the Special Olympic Qualification Classification (SOQC), an overall ranking that takes into account the four World Cup stages to be held this Fall.

As for Laurent Dubreuil and Vincent De Haître, their medals brought them one step closer to the Olympic Games. Following the four Fall World Cups, if they finish among the top 5 in the SOQC, as per some conditions (including that Canada qualifies at least one spot in this event), they would be prequalified for the 500m and 1500m respectively.

A first golden race for Dubreuil
Laurent Dubreuil (Lévis, QC) won the second 500 men's race of the weekend in 34.80 seconds. He was followed by four Dutch skaters, including Jan Smeekens, who earned silver in 34.84, and Ronald Mulder, who collected bronze thanks to a time of 34.85.

“After skating a race that was technically so-so (Friday in the B group), I wasn't sure if I had the legs to win today,” said Dubreuil. “I was in the second pairing at the start, so it was a matter of coming up with the best race possible and then waiting for the rest of the event to unfold. After my race, I knew I had a chance to win it, but there are so many skaters who can beat you in the 500m... Some skaters came close, but weren't quite able to do it. I still don't quite realize what I've accomplished.”

“It's also the first time for my coach Gregor (Jelonek) has an athlete who has wona a gold medal in a World Cup. We shared a great big hug after ther aceboth take each other in our hands after the race. We're both floating on a cloud!”

Laurent Dubreuil therefore won at age 25 his first career individual gold medal on the World Cup circuit. It was also the first time since November 2015 that he stepped on the podium at a World Cup since he earned bronze in the 500m held during the second stage of the 2015-2016 season, in Salt Lake City.

“I hope this gold medal is only the beginning.” added Dubreuil. “I will try to bring the same intensity, the same aggresivenss, the same smooth technique in my upcoming races this season. I can't wait to see if I will be able to continue to be among the top skaters – that's my goal this season.”

Also in the men's 500 A group, William Dutton (Humboldt, SK) finished 12th in 35.07, while Gilmore Junio (Calgary, AB) followed in 14th place with a time of 35.13.

Blondin back on the podium in mass start
Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON), who finished third in overall mass start standings on the World Cup circuit last season and was crowned champion in that event at the 2016 World Single Distance Championships, skated to second place in Saturday's mass start race, finishing behind Japan's Ayano Sato. Italy's Francesca Lollobrigida was third. Keri Morrison (Burlington, ON) took 8th place.

“I felt strong and I felt confident, especially after recovering from a fall like I did in the semifinal (Friday),” said Blondin. “I was calm and collected before the race, which was a little strange considering it was the first race of the season and that this is also an Olympic year. My result today shows that I'll be solid again in the mass start this season, and that I'll be up to the task looking ahead to the Olympics!”

In the men's mass start, Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) had to settle for 16th place.

De Haître adds first 1500m medal to his collection
Vincent De Haître (Cumberland, ON) registered a time of 1:45.87, Saturday, to finish 1.45 seconds away from the winner, Russia's Denis Yuskov (1:44.42). Dutch skater Thomas Krol followed in third place (1:45.92).

The 23-year-old Canadian has won multiple medals in the 1000m distance, but this was his first in the 1500m. His best career result so far in the distance on the World Cup circuit had been sixth place.

“It is really motivating and big boost of confidence to start the season with a World Cup podium,” said De Haître. “I'm happy with my race. I was able to stay relaxed and to keep putting pressure into the ice. Today was a step in the right direction, towards the improvements and changes I plan on making in the coming (1500m) races.”

In the women's 1500m, Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) came in 13th with a time of 1:58.29 in a race that was won by Japan's Miho Takagi (1:54.68), while in the women's 500m, Heather McLean (Winnipeg, MB) skated to 15th place in 38.34 in a race that was won by Japan's Nao Kodaira in 37.33.

Sunday's schedule includes the 1000m, the women’s 3000m, the men’s 5000m and team sprint events.
 
The races will be webstreamed live on the CBC Sports (http://www.cbc.ca/sports) and Radio-Canada Sports (http://ici.radio-canada.ca/) websites.
 
More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca.
 
TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m (2) – M
GOLD: Laurent Dubreuil (34.80)
12. William Dutton (35.07)
14. Gilmore Junio (35.13)

1500m – M
SILVER: Vincent De Haître (1:45.87)

Mass Start - W
SILVER: Ivanie Blondin
8. Keri Morrison

1500m – W
13. Ivanie Blondin (1:58.29)

Mass Start - M
16. Olivier Jean

500m (2) – W
15. Heather McLean (38.34)

500m (2) B - M
2. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (35.28)
3. Alexandre St-Jean (35.40)

500m (2) B – W
1. Marsha Hudey (38.44)
3. Kaylin Irvince (38.94)

1500m B – W
3. Brianne Tutt (1:58.65)
4. Isabelle Weidemann (1:58.79)
12. Keri Morrison (2:00.70)

1500m B – M
7. Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (1:47.34)
10. Denny Morrison (1:47.64)
12. David La Rue (1:48.06)

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

Speed Skating Canada would like to thank its sponsors:

Premium partner: Intact Insurance
Funding partners: Government of Canada (Sport Canada), Own The Podium, Canadian Olympic Committee
Official On-Ice High Performance Apparel: Li-Ning
Long Track Team Sponsor: KIA
Official Suppliers: Auclair, USANA
Official Technical Equipment Supplier: Nagano Skate
Sport Development Partners: Winsport Canada, Calgary’s Olympic Oval, University of Calgary, Institut national du sport du Québec, Government of Quebec, Canadian Sport Institute-Calgary, City of Montreal, Quebec City, Excellence sportive Québec-Lévis

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For information:
Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-589-8960
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Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca  
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca   
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC  
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