Speed Skating Canada unveils its final roster for the ISU World Cup Long Track in Harbin, China

Harbin, China, November 8, 2016 – Speed Skating Canada announced today its final line-up, including events for each Canadian skater, for the first ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating of this 2016-2017 pre-Olympic season to be held this weekend, November 11-13, in Harbin, China.

The 20 Canadian skaters will be looking to polish their preparation before the Olympic year while aiming to improve their performances from last winter. Over the 2015-2016 season, the Long Track National Team won a total of 30 medals in World Cups, a team high since 2008-2009. When including the four medals won at last season's World Single Distance Championships and the 10 podium results earned at the World Junior Championships, that total increases to 44 medals, the team's highest medal haul over a season since 2008-2009.

Among them, four-time Olympic medalist Denny Morrison, from Fort St. John, B.C., will make his come back at the international level this weekend following a motorcycle accident in 2015 and a stroke last April. In Harbin, Morrison will take part in the 1500m event Sunday.

“My goal for this season was to qualify for the Winter World Cups,” said Denny Morrison. “My coach and I were surprised with my recovery, to be prepared in time to skate at the Fall World Cups trials and qualifying for the World Cups. I will use these races to get myself in shape to compete against the best in the world. Now that I’m back in the World Cups, my goal is to see if I can make the top 20 and see what I can do from there.”

Three individual medalists from the 2016 World Single Distance Championships
The Canadian team will also be led by the three individual medalists at the 2016 World Single Distance Championships held in Kolomna, Russia, last year: Ted-Jan Bloemen from Calgary, AB, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, ON, and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, QC.

Current Mass Start World Champion, Ivanie Blondin will obviously be at the starting line for this event in Harbin and looking to take her revenge from Irene Schouten from the Netherlands who finished first in the World Cup ranking in this event last year.

“My goal this season is to come back from each World Cup with one medal in mass start”, said Blondin who will also skate in the 1000m and 3000m events. “I would also like to win the World Championships title as well as the Overall World Cup title. For the 3000m and 5000m events this season, I would like to be in between the top 5 and top 10. My times at the start of this season are way faster than in previous seasons and I can’t wait to see what I’ll be able to achieve.”

Ted-Jan Bloemen will only take part in the 5000m event this weekend since the 10,000m race, event which he is the current World Record holder, is not scheduled.

“At the start of the season, it’s hard to judge where you stand,” explained Bloemen. “Especially with a really good last season. And the season before that, I wasn’t part of the top three in the world and I was last year. Now, can I grow further? Can I be the top skater right now? These are the questions I’m going to answers there.”

Five Canadians in the men’s 500m event
Following last season, where five Canadian male skaters were among the top 13 in World Cup men’s 500m overall ranking, Canada will still be the country to watch in this event as five men will be in action, including the bronze medalist in this event at last year World Single Distance Championships: Alex Boisvert-Lacroix.

“I’m very excited to be back on the international scene following the season I had last year”, said Alex Boisvert-Lacroix. “I’m not feeling any additional pressure, but I’m going there with the same outlook as last year: execute my race plan and the results will follow. I had a tremendous season start at the Fall World Cup Selections and I’m very confident with my physical condition at this point.”

In October, Boisvert-Lacroix and Gilmore Junio from Calgary, AB, registered the fastest times in the world so far this season in the 500m distance.

Other than Boisvert-Lacroix, Junio (3rd last year in the Overall World Cup ranking), William Dutton (8th) from Humboldt, SK, and Laurent Dubreuil (9th) from Lévis, QC, will represent Canada in this event along with Christopher Fiola of Montreal, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough, QC.

Fiola will be making his World Cup debut along with Béatrice Lamarche from Quebec City, QC. Both were medalists at last season’s World Junior Championships.

“I’m very excited! This will be a first for me, but I’m not stressed”, said Fiola who will skate in the 500m and 1000m events in Harbin. “To look at and compete against the best in the world will definitively help me to progress. And we are such a great team. I can’t wait!”

“I’m really excited to skate with the best in the world”, added Lamarche who will be in action in the 1000m, 1500m and mass start events this weekend. “I’m surprised to already be at this level. In Harbin, I don’t have any goals since I don’t know what to expect. I only want to have fun and learn from the “great ones”. I think it will help me in the future to have raced in big competitions with no pressure, especially for the next two World Junior Championships.”

In the 1000m, Vincent de Haître from Cumberland, ON, will also be a skater to watch. On Sunday, October 23, in Calgary, he clocked the fastest time in the world so far this season in that distance.

“First of all, I would like to be consistently in the top 8 in the first four World Cups and to be on the podium in the 1000m and 1500m”, said de Haître. “For me, this pre-Olympic season is an opportunity to create my identity and who am I before to start these Games and to evaluate my chances. I hope to go to this year’s World Single Distance Championships to be held in South Korea, which is an opportunity to prepare. One year prior to the 2014 Olympic Games, I didn’t qualify for the World Cups. To take part in these events will give me more experience as I’m learning new things and keep improving after each competition.”

On the women’s side, Heather McLean from Winnipeg, MB, will also be a skater to watch in the 500m. She won her first three career medals on the World Cup circuit last season. McLean, who was sixth in World Cup overall rankings last season, wasn’t able to compete at the Fall World Cup Selections due to a viral sinus infection and earned a bye.

The women’s 3000m and men’s 5000m events will be held Friday while the first 500m of the weekend and 1000m and team pursuit, both for the men and women, are scheduled Saturday. The competition will end Sunday with the men’s and women’s second 500m and 1500m.

Canadian skaters for the team pursuit event will be decided on the day of the competition.

Coaches Kevin Crockett, Todd McClements and Gregor Jelonek will accompany the Canadian athletes.

Members of the Canadian national team for ISU World Cups Long Track #1 in Harbin, China

WOMEN                                                             
-BLONDIN, Ivanie (Ottawa, ON) – 1000m, 3000m, Mass Start
-FISET, Noémie (Quebec City, QC) – 500m, 1000m, 1500m
-HUDEY, Marsha (White City, SK) – 500m
-IRVINE, Kaylin (Calgary, AB) – 500m, 1000m
-LAMARCHE, Béatrice (Quebec City, QC) – 1000m, 1500m, Mass Start
-McLEAN, Heather (Winnipeg, MB) – 500m
-TUTT, Brianne (Airdrie, AB) – 1500m, 3000m
-WEIDEMANN, Isabelle (Ottawa, ON) – 1500m, 3000m

MEN
-BELCHOS, Jordan (Toronto, ON) – 5000m, Mass Start
-BLOEMEN, Ted-Jan (Calgary, AB) – 5000m
-BOISVERT-LACROIX, Alex (Sherbrooke, QC) – 500m
-De HAÎTRE, Vincent (Cumberland, ON) – 1000m, 1500m
-DUBREUIL, Laurent (Lévis, QC) – 500m, 1000m
-DUTTON, William (Humboldt, SK) – 500m
-FIOLA, Christopher (Montréal, Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough, QC) – 500m, 1000m
-JEAN, Olivier (Lachenaie, QC) – Mass Start
-JUNIO, Gilmore (Calgary, AB) – 500m
-MACLENNAN, Richard (Sault Ste. Marie, ON) – 1000m, 1500m
-MORRISON, Denny (Fort St. John, B.C.) – 1500m
-ST-JEAN, Alexandre (Quebec City, QC) – 1000m

More information, including the competition schedule, is available at 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 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, and WinSport Canada.

- 30 -

For information:
Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-589-8960
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