Victory for Lay & Belchos at Canada Cup #4

The season has been a grind, but it’s still not over for the long track speed skaters, who are facing off this week in the Canada Cup #4 event at the Calgary Olympic Oval. A lot is at stake as well: spots on the national team and the national development team are up for grabs. The big winners of today’s opening races were Kirsti Lay (Medecine Hat, AB) and Jordan Belchos (Toronto, ON), taking home the 3000m women’s and 5000m men’s events, respectively.

Lay was impressive in a time of 4:09.47, outdistancing second place finisher Nicole Garrido (Edmonton, AB) by more than a second. Garrido finished in a time of 4:10.94. Kali Christ (Regina, SK) rounded out the podium, clocking in at 4:11.32.

“I’m really happy. I was hoping to win, but my biggest focus was on skating my best possible race,” declared Lay, who beat her personal best by 3.5 seconds.

“I wanted to integrate everything I practiced in training into this race today. I concentrated really hard on my technique, and things went great,” added the Alberta native who also placed ninth in the 500m event. Lay will also be participating in the 5000m later this weekend.

As far as Jordan Belchos is concerned, he also dominated his event, the 5000m, thanks to a time of 6:28.52. “It was a decent result, though it’s a couple of seconds off my personal best,” explained the Torontonian, who was hoping to improve his career best by four to five seconds. “Still, by winning today’s event, it should allow me to finish among the top two in the Canada Cup standings, and to assure me a spot on the national team next year, which was my goal.”

Scott Bikerton (Nelson, BC) finished second in the race, coming in at 6:34.91, while Keith Sulzer (Calgary, AB) came away with the bronze in a time of 6:38.30.

Canadian junior record for Laurent Dubreuil

Also on Thursday, Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) won the first leg of the 500m on the program. Gregg, the current leader in the Canada Cup standings at this distance, clocked a time of 34.89, beating out his closest competitor, Laurent Dubreuil (Lévis, QC), by 15 one hundredths of a second. “It was a really great race. I had a great start and a good first turn, and to finish that close to a skater who normally finishes amongst the top ten in the world, it was really satisfying,” explained Dubreuil, second in the distance at this year's World Junior Championships.

The 18-year-old athlete registered a time of 35.04, a new Canadian junior record. “We had no idea the ice was going to be this fast, but the record was still our objective, explained Dubreuil, who in the end beat out the old mark, held by Richard MacLennan (Sault St. Marie), by two hundreths of a second.

Meanwhile, Gilmore Junio (Calgary, AB) took home the 3rd place finish with a time of 35.16 in the 500m.

In the women’s 500m event, Danielle Wotherspoon (Red Deer, AB) registered the best time, a clocking of 38.69. Currently sitting 4th in the overall Canada Cup standings, Wotherspoon crossed the finish line two hundredths of a second ahead of Tamara Oudenaarden (St. Albert, AB), who managed a time of 38.71. Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary, AB) finished 3rd in 38.78.

The first leg of the 1000m will be one of the events on the program Friday, in both the men’s and women’s competition. A 5000m event will follow for the women, with a 10 000m race in store for the men.