Vincent de Haître wins gold & Denny Morrison is back on the podium at ISU World Cup Long Track stage in Kazakhstan

Astana, Kazakhstan, December 3, 2016 – Vincent de Haître earned his first ever individual gold medal as he won the men's 1000m race, Saturday, while Ted-Jan Bloemen, Jordan Belchos and Denny Morrison collected silver in the men's team pursuit at the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating stage held until Sunday in Astana, Kazakhstan.

In the men's team pursuit, Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, AB, Jordan Belchos of Toronto, ON, and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., won silver with a time of 3:44.95. Japan (3:44.10) skated to gold while Poland (3:45.04) earned bronze.

This is Canada's first medal in this event since the gold medal the men won at the first World Cup stage of the 2015-2016 season, held in Calgary; and for Denny Morrison, this is the first time he stepped on the podium since his motorcycle accident in 2015 and the stroke he suffered last April.

“Three World Cups and a podium; this is unbelievable considering not just my injuries, but also the set backs and necessary steps to get here. They are all big steps and all surprising to me”, said Denny Morrison.

“It’s pretty amazing when you think where Denny’s come from”, related Jordan Belchos. “To come back here and to stand on the podium again, it’s the most amazing thing, I think, about all this.”

“It was a really good race and I’m super proud of these guys, to see Denny come back and skate like this, and Jordan who finished this race really really strong”, added Ted-Jan Bloemen.

First individual gold medal for de Haître
In the men’s 1000m, Vincent de Haître skated to a time of 1:08.90 to finish ahead of 2016 World Champion Pavel Kulizhnikov (1:08.99) of Russia and Takuro Oda (1:09.06) of Japan.
 
This is De Haître's first ever win on the international scene at the senior level. He won gold three times for Canada in the team sprint event. In the spring of 2015, he collected a bronze in the 1000m at the World Cup Finals held in Erfurt, Germany.

“It's still sinking in,” said Vincent de Haître. “I'm super happy about it! I was thinking about all the stuff I've been working on all week, and I tried to apply it as much as I could.  During the last lap, I got a little bit nervous. There is still room for improvement, but I'm still incredibly happy about it!”

De Haître said that making a change to his approach also helped.

“Before, as soon as I would find out who I was with in my pair, I would get nervous because of who they were and I would worry about where they would be on the ice. This time, I told myself to really focus on what I needed to do in the race and that if I see him, I see him. And if I don't, it's a good race!”
 
Alex Boisvert-Lacroix climbing back up
In the first men's 500m of the weekend, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, QC, was the top Canadian of the day with a 9th-place finish in 34.87 seconds.
 
Boisvert-Lacroix therefore came up with his best time and best placing in three World Cup stages so far this season.

“I knew and I felt this week that I was back skating to a top-10 level,” said Boisvert-Lacroix. “I got used to my new blades and I felt I had strong legs. I'm happy with my race. Things are looking up.”
 
Christopher Fiola (35.02) of Montreal, QC, was 16th while William Dutton (35.191) of Humboldt, SK, and Laurent Dubreuil (35.199) of Lévis, QC, respectively finished 18th and 19th.

“It was terrible, from the beginning to the end,” said Dubreuil, the top Canadian in World Cup standings so far this season. “There wasn't even one part of the race where I was able to do things right technically. I need to be better tomorrow.”

According to the World Cup standings, only Laurent Dubreuil will be on the starting line for the second men's 500m race in the A division, Sunday, while the three other Canadian male skaters will be in group B. The latter will try to finish among the top three in order to be promoted to the A division for the next race in that distance, to be held next weekend in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
 
Promotions for Laurent Dubreuil and Marsha Hudey
There was one bright spot for Laurent Dubreuil on Saturday, as he qualified for the A division in the men's 1000m after taking third place in the B group in that distance, with a time of 1:10.14. Denny Morrison (1:10.31) was sixth.

“Being able to skate in the A group has always been one of my goals in the 1000m, so I'm very happy. I came very close to qualifying on a number of occasions, for example in Nagano, two weeks ago,” said Dubreuil, who finished fourth in the B group in Japan, barely missing a promotion to the A division, atttributed to the top three skaters. “This will be a first for me. I've been promoted to the A group before, but I didn't skate in the following World Cup and I was dropped back into the B group. If I can correct certain things during the last lap, I will be competitive in the 1000m.”
 
Marsha Hudey of White City, SK, also qualified for a spot in the A group in the 1000m. She finished third in the women's B division with a time of 1:18.22. Heather McLean (1:18.85) of Winnipeg, MB, was 10th.

“That is definitively my best result in a 1000m at the World Cup and I was surprised,” said Hudey. “It will be a great opportunity to be in the A group.”

Also in the women's 1000m, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, ON, was relegated to the B group as she finished in 20th and last place with a time of 1:17.82. Kaylin Irvine (1:17.22) of Calgary, AB, took the 16th spot.
 
Blondin, along with Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa, ON, and Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, AB, also had a tough day in the women's team pursuit as they were unable to finish their race due to a fall.
 
On Sunday, the last day of competition, the second 500m races, the 1500m and the mass start events will take place.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

1000m M
GOLD – Vincent de Haître (1:08.90)
13. Alexandre St-Jean (1:09.65)

Team Pursuit M
SILVER – Canada (3:44.95)
(Ted-Jan Bloemen, Jordan Belchos, Denny Morrison)

500m M
9. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (34.87)
16. Christopher Fiola (35.02)
18. William Dutton (35.191)
19. Laurent Dubreuil (35.199)

1000m W
16. Kaylin Irvine (1:17.22)
20. Ivanie Blondin (1:17.82)

Team Pursuit W
9. Canada (fall)
(Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann, Brianne Tutt)

500m (B) M
14. Alexandre St-Jean (35.54)

1000m (B) W
3. Marsha Hudey (1:18.22)
10. Heather McLean (1:18.85)

1000m (B) M
3. Laurent Dubreuil (1:10.14)
6. Denny Morrison (1:10.31)

More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: 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, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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For information:
Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
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Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
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