Vincent de Haître becomes fastest skater in the world in the 1500m this season, Denny Morrison comes in second at Long Track Fall World Cup Selections

Calgary, October 23, 2016 – Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, ON, earned his second victory of the weekend in Sunday's 1500m by skating to the fastest time in the world in that distance this season and by crossing the finish line ahead of Denny Morrison, who was second, at the Long Track Fall World Cup Selections held at Calgary's Olympic Oval.

On the women's side, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, ON, collected her fourth win in as many races, this time in the 1500m, after finishing first in the 1000m, 3000m and 5000m events earlier in the competition. Suffering from bursitis to an ankle, Blondin, who was already prequalified for the first World Cup of the season in the mass start after having won a gold medal in that event at the 2016 World Single Distance Championships, did not take part in Sunday's mass start. That race was won by Béatrice Lamarche of Quebec City, QC. Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, QC, won the men's mass start.

In the men's 1500m, de Haître beat his personal best by 28 hundredths of a second with a time of 1:44.27, good for first place. That time is also the fastest in the world in that distance so far this season.

The 22-year-old athlete finished ahead of Denny Morrison (1:46.62) of Fort St. John, B.C., and Richard Maclennan (1:46.86) of Sault Ste. Marie, ON.
 
De Haître, Morrison, Maclennan as well as Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, AB, who skated to a time of 1:47.18, all came within the time standard of 1:47.14 needed to be eligible to qualify in this distance for the first World Cup of the 2016-2017 season.

“I watched a lot of video last night, even Denny’s world record here in 2007 and it gave me a few ideas on what I wanted to do in my race today,” explained Vincent de Haître who also won the 1000m Saturday. “I put it in my race plan and did my best to follow it. It gives me confidence going into the 1500m at World Cups knowing that I finally have a go-to strategy and that I can work forward from here.”

“I’m really happy with the outcome and mostly happy with how my teammate Vincent de Haître did,” said Denny Morrison, who was skating this week in his first sanctioned competition in 18 months, after having a motorcycle accident in 2015 and suffering a stroke last April. “Seeing Richard (Maclennan) qualify and Vince posting a world class time was great.”

“From my side, I’m obviously happy that I qualified,” added Morrison. “It was a solid race for me. I feel like a junior again, not really knowing where I stand compared to my teammates. It makes me feel a lot younger. I know I will improve as I continue to skate.”
 
“During my recovery, I kept telling myself that I just needed to get on the ice and do like I’ve done in the past. But I’m just not able to do that yet. I’ve been away from the ice for two years and I need to give myself time. In the 1500m, I really put emphasis on relaxing and it gave me some good results. I’m excited to use that as a foundation to build off of, and I’m confident that I can get post-stroke personal bests.”

Four in four for Ivanie Blondin
In the women's 1500m, Ivanie Blondin, of Ottawa came up with her fourth win of the competition by skating to a time of 1:56.49.
 
Isabelle Weidemann (1:57.10) of Ottawa skated to second place and set a personal best, lowering her former mark by one second and 57 hundredths. Brianne Tutt (1:57.35) of Airdrie, AB, was third.

Blondin, Weidemann and Tutt all skated faster than the time standard of 1:57.81 required to be eligible to qualify in this distance for the first World Cup of the 2016-2017 season.

“I’m feeling pretty confident,” said Blondin. “Up until a week ago, I was struggling a lot with the setup of my boots, so we had to change a lot of things. Before trials, I was getting really nervous because I didn’t know where I was at. This is definitely reassuring for me to know that I am posting fast times and that I’m strong. I’m not fully rested yet, so that’s a positive thing to see that I am able to push through and perform well when I need to.”

“That is the first really big personal best that I’ve had in a while,” noted Isabelle Weidemann. “I came in with a little bit more of a distance mindset and I didn’t know if I could whip out some sprints. I’ve been working a lot on my technique with Xiuli (Wang, her coach) and we’ve been focusing on my starts, especially to improve my openers.”
 
Béatrice Lamarche and Olivier Jean win mass start races
In Ivanie Blondin's absence, Béatrice Lamarche of Quebec City, QC, won the women's mass start on Sunday. The win earned her a nomination to the Canadian team for the mass start, along with Blondin, for the first World Cup stage of the season.

Josie Spence of Kamloops, BC, and Weidemann were respectively second and third.

“I was not expecting to win,” admitted Béatrice Lamarche, age 18, who won a bronze medal in this event at the Long Track World Junior Championships last season. “Before the race, my coach told me that Ivanie Blondin was not racing and that I had to win. The race was perfect for me because I knew that at the end I would be able to gain quite a lot of speed and go very fast.”

“Initially, I was not planning on going to World Cups because I am also skating in short track. But now, my coach thinks that I should go to at least one World Cup because it would be good experience for the future. I haven't decided yet because if I go, I will have to stop short track early. I train mostly in short track because we don’t have outdoor ice in Quebec City yet. My main goal, however, is to skate at the Long Track World Junior Championships in February.”

In the men's mass start, Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, QC, and Jordan Belchos of Markham, ON, respectively finished first and second, therefore earning their nomination to the Canadian team for the mass start for the first World Cup stage of the season. Stefan Waples of Winnipeg, MB, took third place.

During the race, there was contact between Olivier Jean and Christopher Fiola of Montreal, QC, in the last straight leading to the finish line, which caused Fiola to fall in spectacular fashion.

“I went out of the corner as tight as I could because I knew someone was coming on the inside, so I didn't give up much space at all,” explained Jean, who won an Olympic gold medal in the relay in short track. “From my point of view, I just closed the door. There was no room with my body size and the lane I was using.”
 
“When I went from short track to long track, I did it for the mass start,” added Jean. “For me, that's the most interesting event and I think that is where I can be more natural and use my full potential.”

Aside from Vincent de Haître and Isabelle Weidemann, Jordan Belchos (1:47.86), Noémie Fiset (2:00.02) of Quebec City, QC, Jacob Graham (1:49.78) of Dawson Creek, BC, Béatrice Lamarche (1 :59.68) of Quebec City, QC, and Tyson Langelaar (1:48.77) of Winnipeg, MB, all came up with new personal bests in Sunday's 1500m races.

The final list of skaters who will be named on the Canadian team for the first ISU Long Track Speed Skating World Cup stage of the season, to be held Nov. 11-13 in Harbin, China, will be announced over the next few weeks.

More details are available on Speed Skating Canada’s website at www.speedskating.ca.

TODAY’S RESULTS
1500m W
1. Ivanie Blondin (1:56.49)
2. Isabelle Weidemann (1:57.10)
3. Brianne Tutt (1:57.35)

1000m M
1. Vincent de Haître (1:44.27)
2. Denny Morrison (1:46.62)
3. Richard Maclennan (1:46.86)

Mass Start W
1. Béatrice Lamarche
2. Josie Spence
3. Isabelle Weidemann

Mass Start M
1. Olivier Jean
2. Jordan Belchos
3. Stefan Waples

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.

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Patrick Godbout
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