Olivier Jean earns bronze in mass start at 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships

GANGNEUNG, South Korea, February 12, 2017 – Sixteen months after moving on from short track speed skating to long track full time, Olivier Jean earned a bronze medal in the men's mass start, Sunday, on the last day of the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships held in Gangneung, South Korea.
 
Having chosen to go with an aggressive approach, Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, QC, quickly skated out in front with a small pack of skaters and never looked back after that, as he ended up collecting bronze behind Joey Mantia of the United States and France's Alexis Contin. Jordan Belchos of Toronto, ON, was 19th.
 
“When I saw an opportunity to break away and realized there were other quality skaters with me, I decided to invest a lot of energy in it. I showed to the other athletes that I was ready to invest and to pull some laps to force the others to work as a team, and that's exactly what happened,” explained Olivier Jean.
 
“This was only my third mass start race this season and I didn't know how I compared to the other skaters. I guess that I was pretty strong!,” said a laughing Olivier Jean, whose best result in five career mass start races so far had been a 13th-place finish in the second stage of this World Cup season in Nagano, Japan.
 
“It's an incredible feeling to win this medal today, it's gives me a great boost of confidence when I look back on everything I've accomplished in only one year and a half. And I still have one year left before the Olympics! It's great for my confidence and for my desire to continue with the process, and it's especially incredible after only 16 months of complete investment, skating on different skates for long track,” added Olivier Jean.
 
The 32-year-old skater took part in his first long track event in the fall of 2015. He previously represented Canada in short track at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, notably winning a gold medal with the men's relay in Vancouver.
 
“I made a lot of decisions that were different from other athletes this year in terms of training and travelling, to prepare in a way that was more specific to my needs. It's hard to be confident when the results aren't there yet. My goal today was to be confident in my physical abilities, which I wasn't able to do earlier this season,” explained Olivier Jean, notably alluding to the numerous skating marathons that were held in the Netherlands in recent months, and in which he participated.

“Those marathons helped me a lot, from a mental aspect for instance. I was a guy that used to skate 500m races in short track, so skating 16 laps of 400m in length seemed very long to me at first. Now that I've done 125-lap races, when I come on the ice to do 16 laps, it's like a blink of an eye. Mentally, I'm confident that the race will be short.”
 
Canada therefore concluded the World Single Distance Championships with three medals: a silver medal won by Vincent De Haître in the men's 1000m, as well as bronze medals earned by Ivanie Blondin in the women's 5000m and Olivier Jean in the men's mass start. The Canadian team also finished four times at the foot of the podium, in addition to registering two fifth-place finishes and three sixth-place results, for a total of twelve top-6 results.
 
Ivanie Blondin pays the price for Schouten's fall
In the women's mass start, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, ON, was unable to defend the world championship title she won in that event at last year's World Single Distance Championships held in Russia.
 
While she was well positioned in the pack that was skating out in front with two turns to go, Ivanie Blondin saw last season's World Cup champion, Irene Schouten of the Netherlands, fall in front of her, forcing Blondin to slow down and settle for fifth place in the race, and 10th place when taking intermediate points into account.
 
The race was won by South Korea's Bo-Reum Kim, who leads the World Cup standings this season. She finished ahead of Japan's Nana Takagi and Heather Bergsma of the United States.
 
“Everything went as planned. I think I had a great race until the last lap. I got stuck behind a little bit and Irene Schouten tried to do an inside pass on me, which didn't work, and she felt right in front of me. It empeded me from being able to be among the top contenders for the finish. And I had so much energy left in me until that moment,” said Ivanie Blondin.
 
“It's so frustrating because I know I should have been first, I know I'm stronger than every single one of those girls. I should have been on the podium today, and even bring back a gold medal for our country. I'm glad this is not the Olympic race, that this happened this year and not next year. I'll use it to fuel my fire for the next races.”
 
De Haître in fourth place
After collecting a silver medal in Saturday's 1000m, Vincent De Haître of Cumberland, ON, came 29 hundredths of a second away from another podium finish, Sunday, as he skated to fourth place in 1:45.79.
 
Kjeld Nuis (1:44.36) of the Netherlands won gold, followed by Russia's Denis Yuskov (1:44.67) and Sven Kramer (1:45.50) of the Netherlands.
 
“Fourth is the closest you can come to a podium, so it's disappointing. But at the same time, it's a big boost of confidence knowing that I'm a year away from the Olympics,” said Vincent De Haître. “It just needed to skate one lap a little bit faster.  My medal in the 1000m definitively boosted my confidence in my ability to perform today. I'm pretty happy overall with my week.”
 
The other Canadian skating in the men's 1500m, Ben Donnelly of Oshawa, ON, was disqualified for having forced the other skater in his pair to slow down when changing lanes.
 
In the women's 1500m, Isabelle Weidemann (1:59.47) of Ottawa, ON, was the top Canadian with a 18th-place finish. Brianne Tutt (2:01.26) of Airdrie, AB, was 22nd. Heather Bergsma (1:54.08) of the United States won gold, followed by Ireen Wüst (1:54.19) of the Netherlands and Japan's Miho Takagi (1:55.12).

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

Mass Start M
BRONZE – Olivier Jean
19. Jordan Belchos

1500m M
4. Vincent De Haître (1:45.79)
24. Ben Donnelly (DQ)

Mass Start
10. Ivanie Blondin

1500m H
18. Isabelle Weidemann (1:59.47)
22. Brianne Tutt (2:01.26)

More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's web site at 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, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, City of Montreal, Calgary Olympic Oval and WinSport Canada.

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For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
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Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
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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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