McLean, Junio, de Haître & Christ win opening sprint races at the Canadian Single Distance Long Track Speed Skating Championships

Heather McLean, Gilmore Junio, Vincent de Haître and Kali Christ all won the first sprint races held at the Canadian Single Distance Long Track Speed Skating Championships, Sunday at Calgary's Olympic Oval, while four-time Olympic medalist Denny Morrison qualified for the 2015 World All Round Championships, to be held in Calgary March 7-8.

McLean and Junio won the women's and men's 500m races while de Haître and Christ took gold the 1000m events. The Canadian championships conclude Monday with another 500m and another 1000m for both the men and women, which will also serve as selection races for the two winter World Cups.

McLean skated a personal best of 38.41 seconds in the women's 500m on Sunday. Jessica Gregg of Edmonton, who is in her first season in long track after switching from short track, took silver in 38.63, also a personal best. Marsha Hudey of White City, Sask., won the bronze in 38.85.

“I’m really happy,” said McLean, a Winnipeg skater who was celebrating her 22nd birthday on Sunday. “I was able to improve on my opening (100 metres), which was my goal, because I knew if I opened faster, I’d keep getting faster.”

Calgary’s Junio beat Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., by the slightest of margins in the men’s 500m — 34.78 seconds to 34.79. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que., won the bronze in 34.82.

“It’s one of my best races this year,” Junio said. “I executed my plan properly and hopefully (Monday), I’ll be a bit faster.”

Dubreuil, who has been the top Canadian in the 500m so far this season at the World Cup, had another near miss in the 1000m. Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, Ont., won in 1:08.39, compared to Dubreuil's time of 1:08.40. Tyler Derraugh of Winnipeg was third in 1:08.52.

Kali Christ, who won the 1500m on Friday, finished Sunday's 1000m in 1:16.09. Kate Hanly of Calgary was second in 1:17.74 and Alexandra Ianculescu, of Toronto, third in 1:17.92.

A first in six years for Morrison
Denny Morrison’s seventh place showing with a time of 35.03 in the 500m earned him a spot in the World All Round Championships for the first time in six years. He qualified based on total points accumulated in the 500m, 1500m and 5000m events combined. He hasn’t competed at those championships since 2009, when he finished seventh in Hamar, Norway.

“The ice has been great this week. This was one of my fastest laps in the 500m in my entire career,” Morrison said.

Canada Cup #2
In Sunday's Canada Cup #2 events, held in conjunction with the Canadian championships, Keira Poelzer of Calgary won the women’s 500m in 40.42, while Maddison Pearman of Ponoka, Alta., was second and Béatrice Lamarche of Quebec City was third.

Christopher Fiola of Montreal won the men’s 500m in 36.45, while Alex Ruel-Garvey of Calgary was second and Jacob Graham of Dawson Creek, B.C., third.

Lamarche won the women's 1,000m in 1:21.83, in a race where Geanne Blais-Dufour of Quebec City was second and Allison Bates of Calgary, third. Sam Deckert of Winnipeg won the men’s 1000m, followed by Magna Notland of Norway and Fiola.

Competition conclude Monday with two more Canada Cup 500m and 1000m races and mass start events beginning at 9 a.m, local time. The second 500m races at the Canadian Single Distance Championships will start at 12:30 p.m., followed by the 1000m races at 1:45. Women’s and men’s mass start races begin at 3:50 p.m.

Skaters taking part in the Canadian Single Distance Championships this weekend are looking for spots in the two winter World Cups, Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Hamar, Norway, and Feb. 7-8 in Heerenveen, Netherlands, World Single Distance Championships Feb. 12-15 in Heerenveen, World Sprint Championships Feb. 28-March 1 in Astana, Kazakhstan, and World All Round Championships March 7-8 in Calgary. The skaters taking part in the Canada Cup #2 competition are looking to improve their Canadian ranking.
 
For the two winter World Cups, skaters with top six placing in 2014-15 World Cup rankings, for a maximum of two per distance, have already qualified. Following the first four World Cups this season, Laurent Dubreuil (second in the 500m overall ranking), Morrison (sixth in the 1500m) and Blondin (first in the mass start and fourth in the 3000m) have already pre-qualified for the two Winter World Cups.
 
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 13,000 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 sponsor Intact Insurance, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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For information:
Jeff MacKinnon   
Coordinator, Media and Communications Services – long track
Speed Skating Canada
Email: jmackinnon@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-860-9525
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC

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
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC