Vincent De Haître follows in the footsteps of Clara Hughes

The Olympian and long track speed skater will represent Canada at the Pan American Track Cycling Championships

Ottawa, August 23, 2018 – A few months after representing Canada in long track speed skating in his second career Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Vincent De Haître will now move on to another kind of track as he wears the Canadian jersey at the Pan American Track Cycling Championships set to be held August 29 to September 2 in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

And according to De Haître, this competition constitutes only one step on the road towards his ultimate dream, which is to follow in the footsteps of Clara Hughes and to take part in the Olympic Summer Games – Tokyo 2020 in his case – as a cyclist.

However, while Hughes, a four-time Olympic medalist in long track speed skating, competed in road cycling at the 1996, 2000 and 2012 Games, De Haître plans to concentrate on track cycling – in team pursuit, to be more precise – over the next few years. Qualifying for a spot on the Canadian team at the upcoming Pan American Championships was a big step for the 24-year-old athlete from Cumberland, Ontario.

“The Olympic qualifying process has already started and these championships are the first step,” noted De Haître who, in Aguascalientes, will take part in the team pursuit and kilometre events wih the men's NextGen endurance track team. During trials held in 2014 on the same track in Mexico, De Haître beat the Canadian record per kilometre and he will try to do it again, in addition to trying to become the first Canadian to finish the distance in less than one minute.

“It was clear from the outset that Vince had a pretty unique and special physiology that would allow him to pursue his goal of becoming an Olympic level track cyclist,” said Cycling Canada’s Men’s Track Endurance Coach, Jono Hailstone.

“He is a fast learner and is progressing quickly, but the team pursuit is quite a technically demanding event, requiring riders to follow the wheel in front very closely, execute perfectly timed changes, hug the black line as they ride through the corners, and pace their effort very precisely over the four kilometres distance. In addition to learning the technical aspects of the event, Vince has had to make some changes to his physiology and physique to adapt to a more aerobically challenging event.”

“It will be exciting to watch Vince’s transformation into a track cyclist over the next 18 months and follow his progressive integration into the Elite Men’s Track Endurance squad,” added Hailstone. “His training and competitions will be a great opportunity for him to learn the technical demands of the sport before stepping into the Elite squad for the World Cup season.”

After the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games
Following the PyeongChang Winter Games, De Haître took a series of tests on track as well as in a laboratory at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre, located in Milton, Ontario. He then came back to train in Calgary in June, and subsequently returned to Milton, where he has since been training full-time.

“Track training has been going well and I see a lot of progress, even if most of my training sessions consist of road cycling. There is a greater aerobic component in the team pursuit event than there is in the 1000m or 1500m races on skates,” noted De Haître.

The athlete has picked up where he left off in 2014, when he qualified in cycling for the Commonwealth Games. In Scotland that year, he finished fourth in the team sprint event and seventh in the per kilometre event.

“In 2014, my goal was simply to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, and then to return to skating in September,” said De Haître. “But now, I plan to devote myself exclusively to cycling over the next two years.”

But it won't be an easy journey for De Haître, who is among the oldest athletes in the current training group for track cycling. Canada will first need to qualify among the top eight in the overall standings of the World Cup circuit and the World Championships over the next two years in order to earn a spot at the Tokyo Olympics. Then, De Haître will have to be selected among one of the four athletes that will make up the team pursuit squad.

“There is no doubt that my main goal is to earn a spot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” said De Haître. “However, it's impossible to predict if things will go as planned. I believe the team can qualify for the Games and that I have what is needed to make the team.”

A return to speed skating is planned
Winner of a silver medal in the 1000m event at the 2017 ISU World Single Distance Championships, Vincent De Haître has not put an end to his career in speed skating.

“Obviously, it may seem like a big risk to go two years without skating,” noted De Haître. “But after discussing it with my coach Bart Schouten, I'm confident that this temporary change will turn out to be a good thing. I'm still training at the highest level and I am developing new skills. The question is not if I will return to skating, but when. If things go according to plan, I will be returning to speed skating in full force in August of 2020.”

“Vincent is a very talented multi-sport athlete, but in addition to his talent, he works hard and very deliberately practices to be the best he can be,” said his speed skating coach Bart Schouten. “I am sure racing and training in track cycling will make Vincent a more complete athlete upon his return to speed skating and we look forward to Vincent re-taking his place among the best speed skaters in the world.”

Vincent De Haître will leave the country on August 27 will his new teammates including Hugo Barrette and travel to Mexico for the Pan American Track Cycling Championships.

More information can be found on Speed Skating Canada’s website at www.speedskating.ca.

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
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:
Patrick Godbout
Lead, Communications & Media Relations
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

Karine Bédard
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Cycling Canada
Mobile: (438) 884-8771
Email: karine.bedard@cyclingcanada.ca