The chase for Olympic spots in Long Track Speed Skating starts this weekend in the Netherlands

Heerenveen, Netherlands, November 8, 2017 – Canadian Long Track Speed Skaters will kick off their international season this weekend at the first ISU World Cup stage of the 2017-2018 season which will be held November 10-12 in Heerenveen, Netherlands, with, in play, qualification of quota spots for each country in the different events to be held at the 2018 Olympic Games.

This weekend, Canada will be represented by a team of 22 skaters, including the individual medalists from last year's World Single Distance Championships Ivanie Blondin from Ottawa, Vincent De Haître from Cumberland, ON, and Olivier Jean from Lachenaie, QC.
 
After earning podium finishes at that competition held last spring in Gangneung, South Korea, Blondin and De Haître could prequalify for the Olympics by winning another medal in the 5000m for Blondin or in the 1000m for De Haître, at one of the four World Cups to be held this fall, as long as Canada qualifies at least one spot in those distances.
 
“I’m a little bit nervous because I'm eager for the season to start but at the same time, I feel really at my best,” said Ivanie Blondin. “We had two really good training camps and I’m feeling stronger than ever. In this Olympic year, for sure I’m aiming for podiums!”
 
“I see this first World Cup as preparation for the rest of the competition this season," said Vincent De Haître. “It would be nice to prequalify after the first World Cup, but it is not my priority. I am very relaxed and excited to compete at the first stage of the season."
 
The World Cup will start on Friday with the first 500m and team pursuit events. Saturday, the second 500m, the 1500m and the mass start are scheduled while on Sunday, the 1000m, the women’s 3000m, the men’s 5000m and team sprint events will be held.
 
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.
 
Mass Start
In mass start, Canada will be represented by Olivier Jean from Lachenaie, QC, who won bronze in the mass start event at the 2017 World Single Distance Championships, by Christopher Fiola from Montreal, QC, as well as by Ivanie Blondin and Keri Morrision from Burlington, ON.
 
All four Canadian skaters will vye to finish among the top 16 in the Special Olympic Qualification Classification (SOQC), a ranking posted by the International Skating Union (ISU) following the four Fall World Cups, which will determine allocated spots per country in each individual distance for the Olympic Games following the three mass start events to be held throughout the four Fall World Cups. The first spots would go to Blondin and Jean and the second ones, to Fiola and Morrison if all four skaters finish among the top 16 in the SOQC.
 
Other Canadian skaters can also prequalify for the Olympic Games by their performances at the Fall World Cups, inasmuch that any athlete who wins a medal in an individual event at a World Cup this Fall and who finishes among the top five based on the SOQC based on points following the first four World Cups will prequalify for PyeongChang in this event, under some conditions, including that Canada qualifies at least one spot in this event
 
Qualify Olympic spots for Canada
But first and foremost, the 22 skaters in action will aim to qualify the maximum number of spots per event at the Olympic Games, i.e. three in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, women’s 3000m and men’s 5000m, two in the women’s 5000m, men’s 10,000m and mass start, as well as one per gender in team pursuit.
 
Following the Fall World Cups, the ISU will publish the SOQC which will determine allocated spots per country in each individual distance for the Olympic Games. Most of the spot allocations will be based on overall World Cup ranking and the rest, on times.
 
A maximum of 10 athletes per gender can be selected to the Olympic Team. Athletes will be selected based on achieving the performance standard for the event and on earning the quota spot.
 
The Canadian team will fill the rest of its roster at the 2018 Long Track Team Selections, which will be held January 4-9 at Calgary’s Olympic Oval.
 
The full 2018 Olympic Selection Policies and Processes are available at www.speedskating.ca/2018-og/.
 
More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca.
 
Canadian Team for the ISU World Cup in Heerenveen, in the Netherlands:
-BLOEMEN, Ted-Jan (Calgary, AB) - 5000m
-BLONDIN, Ivanie (Ottawa, ON) - 1500m, 3000m, Mass Start
-BOISVERT-LACROIX, Alex (Sherbrooke, QC) - 500m
-DE HAÎTRE, Vincent (Cumberland, ON) - 1000m, 1500m
-DONNELLY, Ben (Oshawa, ON) - 5000m
-DUBREUIL, Laurent (Lévis, QC) - 500m
-DUTTON, William (Humboldt, SK) - 500m
-FIOLA, Christopher (Montréal, QC) – Mass Start
-GÉLINAS-BEAULIEU, Antoine (Sherbrooke, QC) - 1500m, 5000m
-HUDEY, Marsha (White City, SK) - 500m, 1000m
-IRVINE, Kaylin (Calgary, AB) - 500m, 1000m
-JEAN, Olivier (Lachenaie, QC) – Mass Start
-JUNIO, Gilmore (Calgary, AB) – 500m
-LA RUE, David (Saint-Lambert, QC) – 1000m, 1500m
-McLEAN, Heather (Winnipeg, MB) - 500m, 1000m
-MORRISON, Denny (Fort St. John, B.C.) – 1000m, 1500m
-MORRISON, Josie (Kamloops, B.C.) – 3000m
-MORRISON, Keri (Burlington, ON) – 1500m, Mass Start
-ST-JEAN, Alexandre (Quebec City, QC) – 500m, 1000m
-TUTT, Brianne (Airdrie, AB) - 1000m, 1500m, 3000m
-WEIDEMANN, Isabelle (Ottawa, ON) - 1500m, 3000m

Jordan Belchos (Markham, ON) was also added to the roster as part of the men’s Team Pursuit. Canadian skaters for the team pursuit and team sprint events will be decided the day of the competition.

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
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