William Dutton wins his third medal in as many 500m races this season at Salt Lake City World Cup

Canadian team members stepped twice on the podium, Friday, on the first day of the second stage of the Long Track Speed Skating World Cup season held in Salt Lake City, U.S.A., as William Dutton and Ivanie Blondin collected bronze in the men's 500m and the women's 5000m, respectively.

In the first 500m event of the weekend, William Dutton of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, earned his third medal in as many 500m races so far this season. Last week, at the first World Cup stage of the season held in Calgary, Dutton won a silver and a bronze in the two 500m races that were held.

Dutton's time on Friday was 34.35 seconds. He finished behind Russia's Pavel Kulizhnikov, who won gold while also setting a new world record of 33.98. American skater Mitchell Whitmore finished second in 34.19.

"I had trouble focusing today because there are a lot of distractions when you're on the road”, explained Dutton. "I was able to overcome the distractions, however, and prove to myself that I'm not just a home ice skater. That was a pretty good feeling. Also, hitting back to back podiums feels great, but it's really just about keeping consistency in my preparation. Every race is a new challenge and I'm really happy that I'm able to face these challenges and overcome them each time. Every medal has a different story and I think that's really neat."

Dutton saw Kulizhnikov improve on the 500m world record from up close, as they skated in the same pairing.

"To beat Kulizhnikov, it's going to take a world record race.  I was ahead of him at the middle of the last corner but he just found another gear for the last 150 meters," said Dutton. "I don't feel like I'm that far off though. I think if I can execute exactly as planned, I have a chance. Right now in this competitive field, it's really coming down to who makes the least mistakes. He's been flawless but I'm building on every race and making gains every day."

Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, QC, finished seventh (34.44), Gilmore Junio of Calgary, 10th (34.53), and Laurent Dubreuil of Québec City, 15th (34.60).
 
Blondin beats her personal best by almost 10 seconds
In the women's 5000m, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa improved on her personal best by close to 10 seconds, lowering it from 7:04.68 to 6:55.88, which allowed her to earn a bronze medal. Czech skater Martina Sábliková won gold in 6:47.42, while Russia's Natalya Voronina came up with silver in 6:53.16.

Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa also improved on her personal best thanks to a time of 7:12.00, good for 11th place. Her previous personal best was 7:14.39.

For Blondin, third place was a repeat of her performance last year in Seoul, South Korea, where she also collected bronze in the same distance, which is raced only once over the World Cup season.

"I'm happy with my race, my personal best and my podium finish," said Ivanie Blondin. "But it wasn't easy. I was in a very good pairing with Natalya Voronina (the silver medalist). She had good rhythm and was fast from start to finish. She was a little bit like the carot and me, like the rabbit! I really gave it my all and I had nothing left in the tank at the end, but I managed to skate almost all of my laps in 32 seconds, which is great. I didn't know I had it in me!”

"The ice is quite fast here this weekend but I think that this morning, it was even quicker," added Blondin. "During the race, we really had to work hard. Had the race been held this morning, I would have clocked an even faster time. But I'm still quite happy with my performance."
                                                                                         
Other personal bests
In the 1500m (A) event, Vincent De Haître of Cumberland, Ontario, seemed to be back in full form after suffering from a virus that affected him last week in Calgary. He set a new personal best by 20 hundredths of a second on Friday with a time of 1:44.55. He finished 12th.

"I'm happy with my best international placement in the 1500 meter ever and the fact that I never skated a 1500m faster in my life," said De Haître. "But I am not happy with my last lap, which was the worst part of my race, and I will work hard to improve on that."

In the women's B division 5000m race, Josie Spence of Kamloops, B.C. clocked her best career time, finishing the race in 7:04.76. She improved her previous personal best (7:12.71) by almost eight seconds. She finished seventh.

In the men's 500m, Alexandre St-Jean of Québec City made amends after falling in last week's second A division 500m race, as he won Friday's B division event. St-Jean skated to a time of 34.57, thus improving on his former personal best of 34.65.

In the first women's division A 500m of the weekend, Heather McLean of Winnipeg finished in 14th place (37.98), one rank ahead of Marsha Hudey of White City, Saskatchewan (38.10).

In the men's 1500m (B), Ben Donnelly of Oshawa improved on his personal best by coming up with a time of 1:46.66, which earned him sixth place. His former personal best was 1:47.30. Olivier Jean from Lachenaie, QC, was disqualified for crossover interference.

500m (1) M - A
BRONZE: William Dutton: 34.35
7: Alex Boisvert-Lacroix: 34.44
10: Gilmore Junio: 34.53
15: Laurent Dubreuil: 34.60

5000m W - A
BRONZE: Ivanie Blondin: 6:55.88
11: Isabelle Weidemann: 7:12.00

1500m M - A
12: Vincent De Haître: 1:44.55

500m (1) M - B
1: Alexandre St-Jean: 34.57

500m (1) W - A
14: Heather McLean: 37.98
15: Marsha Hudey: 38.10

5000m W - B
7: Josie Spence: 7:04.76

500m (1) W - B
9: Kaylin Irvine: 38.65
14: Jessica Gregg: 38.91

1500m M - B
12: Ben Donnelly: 1:46.66
24: Martin Corbett: 1:48.75
30: Olivier Jean: DQ

More details are available at Speed Skating Canada's web site 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, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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Kerry Dankers
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