Two wins & a personal best for Heather McLean, Thursday, at the Canadian Single Distance Championships

Calgary, January 5, 2017 – Heather McLean won the women's 1000m and came up with a personal best in that distance while Kaylin Irvine and William Dutton were both named on the Canadian team that will skate at the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships following races held on Thursday, on the third day of the Canadian Single Distance Championships that will conclude on Friday at Calgary's Olympic Oval. For his part, Laurent Dubreuil also qualified for the 1000m scheduled at the 2017 World Championships.

Heather McLean of Winnipeg, MB, had a productive day as she won two races, Thursday: the second 500m of the week as well as the 1000m.

As she did on Wednesday, when she celebrated her 24th birthday, McLean started by winning the 500m race with a time of 37.39 seconds. She finished ahead of Marsha Hudey (37.73) from White City, SK, and Kaylin Irvine (38.52) of Calgary, AB.

In the women's 1000m that followed, McLean skated to victory in 1:14.99, improving her previous personal best of 1:15.44. She finished ahead of Kaylin Irvine (1:15.75) and Ivanie Blondin (1:15.81) from Ottawa, ON.

By finishing among the top two skaters in the 1000m, McLean and Irvine earned Canada's two spots in that distance at the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships. That competition will take place February 9-12 on the official ice of the 2018 Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea.

“I’m really proud that I made it in the 1000m for the World Championships,” said Heather McLean, who already had her ticket for the 2017 World Championships, having pre-qualified for the 500m event along with Marsha Hudey, following the performances both skaters came up with in the Fall World Cups.

“For the past two years, it’s come down to a skate off and I had missed out on both opportunities”, added McLean. “Third time’s a charm! I really wanted to skate the 1000m at the World Championships, so I’m really happy about that.”

In addition to the 1000m, Kaylin Irvine also earned a spot on the Canadian team in the 500m, as she finished third in overall standings following the week's two races in that distance. Shannon Rempel, with whom she was paired with, finished in fourth place, seven hundredths of a second away from Irvine and third position.

“That was a high stress situation being paired with Shannon (Rempel),” admitted Kaylin Irvine. “Then there was a gun malfunction and I thought I was going to be called for a false start and be disqualified. Going to the line for the third time, I was trying to get back in the zone and focus on what I wanted to do in the race. There was a lot of nervous energy, but it’s good being challenged under such conditions. I was fourth at the trials in the fall, so I wanted to improve on that rank and I did that today.

“In the 1000m, it wasn't a perfect race by any means, but I got it done,” added Irvine. “I wanted it very badly. I think I raced with heart and that’s the biggest thing I have going for me right now.”

Béatrice Lamarche of Quebec City, QC, set a personal best in the 500m thanks to a time of 39.29.

William Dutton wins first ever Canadian championship title
On the men's side, William Dutton repeated his performance from the day before by skating once again to victory in the 500m on Thursday. On Wednesday, he had also finished first in the distance.

Dutton skated to a time of 34.63, Thursday, leading the way to an identical podium as the day before, as Laurent Dubreuil (34.66) of Lévis, QC, and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (34.75), from Sherbrooke, QC, who had already pre-qualified for this event at the World Single Distance Championships, respectively took second and third place.

“It’s my first time being Canadian champion and that was one of my goals for this season. It’s a pretty cool feeling,” said William Dutton. “I’m on my way to the Worlds in South Korea, so overall it was an exciting day. Competing there in a new building will be important and it will be cool to see since they have been putting a lot of hard work into that facility.  It will be inspirational and motivational to compete there prior to the Olympics. I’m really excited about taking part in this event.”

A fourth straight title for De Haître, Laurent Dubreuil qualifies for 1000m
In the 1000m, Vincent de Haître (1:07.57) of Cumberland, ON, and Alexandre St-Jean (1:08.44) from Quebec City, QC, who had both pre-qualified for the 2017 World Championships in this distance, respectively finished first and second in Thursday's race.

“I’m definitely happy that I proved that putting me as a pre-qualified skater prior to the competition was deserved,” said Vincent de Haître, who was crowned Canadian champion in the 1000m for the fourth straight time and who clocked the first time under 1:08.00 this season. “I'm glad I was able to rise to the expectations. My time today was very close to my personal best. I’ve had some bad luck when it comes to racing the 1000m at the Worlds, where I've had a back injury and the flu, so I’m looking forward to executing a good one this year.”

Third with a time of 1:08.72, Laurent Dubreuil earned Canada's last available spot in the 1000m for the international competition that will be held in Gangneung in February.

“I’m happy with my race. I’ve been a bit tired for the last week or so because of a cold. The 500m races have been tough on me and I even had to nap, which is extremely rare for me,” explained Laurent Dubreuil.

“I’m curious to see what I can do in the 1000m at the Worlds,” he added. “I feel like I don’t have many standout results in the 1000m considering what I’m worth. My goal is to finish among the top 10 in the 1000m and to win a medal in the 500m. It's with that in mind that I am going to attack the next month of training and that's where my focus will be.”

Christopher Fiola (1:09.15) from Montreal, QC, and Tyson Langelaar (1:10.22) of Winnipeg, MB, both registered new personal bests in the 1000m.

The final and official list of Canadian skaters and the events in which they will take part at the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships will be announced at a later date following approval by Speed Skating Canada's Long Track High Performance Committee, which will evaluate any appeal or exemption request, if applicable.

Canada Cup #2
At Canada Cup #2, held at the same time at the Canadian Single Distance Championships, Jérôme Detuncq (36.01) of Quebec City, QC, won the week's second 500m race, after also winning the first race in that distance earlier this week.

Detuncq skated to a time of 35.75 to finish ahead of Cooper Hunter (36.65) from De Winton, AB, and Jeff Ross (36.75) of Edmonton, AB.

Olivier Jean from Lachenaie, QC, won the second 1000m of the week with a time of 1:10.82. Daniel Dubreuil (1:10.89) of Lévis, QC, and Antoine Roger (1:11.32) from Quebec City, QC, also made it to the podium.

On the women's side, Alexandra Ianculescu of Romania came up with her third and fourth wins of the competition, finishing first in the second 500m and 1000m women's races of the week, held Thursday.

In the 500m, Ianculescu (40.04) finished ahead of Carolane Gingras (40.56) from Quebec City, QC, Hee Won Son (40.56) of Calgary, AB, and Sara Spence (40.69) of Kamloops, B.C.

In the 1000m, the Romanian skater registered a time of 1:18.75 to win the race ahead of Lindsey Kent (1:20.33) from Winnipeg, MB, Allison Bates (1:21.88) of Great Britain, Alexa Scott (1:21.90) of Clandeboye, MB, and Véronique Déry (1:22.19) of Lévis, QC.

Canada Cup competitions are a series of events where athletes can earn points for each distance towards season-ending rankings, as well as a competition for senior and junior A, B, C2 athletes, this last category being dedicated to skaters born between July 1st, 2001, and June 30, 2002.

Friday, on the last day of the week's competition, the 1500m and mass start races are slated.

In each of the 1500m races, the top male and female skater, aside from Vincent de Haître and Brianne Tutt, who have pre-qualified, will earn the spots attributed to Canada at the World Single Distance Championships. The same will happen in the men's mass start, as Jordan Belchos has already clinched one of two available spots. In the women's mass start, Ivanie Blondin has pre-qualified for Canada's sole spot at the 2017 World Championships.

The races are webcast on the Calgary Olympic Oval YouTube channel, available at www.youtube.com/TheOlympicOval.
 
More information, including the detailed schedule and links to results and webcast information, are available at Speed Skating Canada's website 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 and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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Patrick Godbout
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