Phil Riopel bests his own Canadian Junior Record at the Olympic Oval Regional Qualifier speed skating competition

Calgary, AB - -Philippe Riopel, a second-year member of Canada’s National Development speed skating team, set another Canadian junior record in 35.71 seconds in today’s 500 metre race at the Olympic Oval Regional Qualifier speed skating competition.

“It was a good race,” said Riopel, 19, who was paired with American Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis. “We came out even in the last corner and then in the straight away he pulled ahead. It was intimidating to be paired with him, but after I had a personal best opening time, it gave me some confidence.”

Davis won the race in 35.43 seconds, with Riopel in second. Canadian Olympic silver medalist Steven Elm placed third in 36.55.

Last weekend at the Canada Cup #1 competition Riopel skated a Canadian junior record in the 1,500 metres in 1:46.29. In today’s competition, the Lachenaie, Que., native bested his own record in the 500 metres which he set last season at the ING Finale at the Olympic Oval in a time of 35.81 seconds. Riopel now holds three national junior records in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 metres.

In the men’s 5,000 metre races Davis was again the winner in 6:19.23. Canada’s top long distance speed skater Arne Dankers was second in 6:20.88 with American Trevor Marsicano third in 6:31.35.

In women’s competition, Canada dominated the scoreboard, winning first, second and third place in both the 500 and 3,000 metre races. Clara Hughes, Canada’s top long distance woman, was first in the 3,000 metres in 4:03.13 with Cindy Klassen and Christine Nesbitt second and third in 4:06.17 and 4:11.98.

Nesbitt, from London, Ont., was first in the 500 metres in 38.92 seconds followed by Olympians Klassen, from Winnipeg, in second in 39.27 and Kristina Groves, from Ottawa, in third in 39.73.

The Olympic Oval Regional Qualifier is used to qualify Canada and the U.S.A. for eight men’s and six women’s spots to compete at the 2008 ISU World Allround Championships, Feb. 9 and 10 in Berlin, Germany. Canada’s men have already secured four spots based on results from last season’s World Allround Championship competition, while our ladies are racing to secure four of the six women’s spots.

Competition continues tomorrow starting at 9 a.m. in the 1,500, ladies 5,000 and men’s 10,000 metre races. Skaters to watch are Clara Hughes in the 5,000 metres, her Olympic gold medal distance, and Cindy Klassen and Kristina Groves in the 1,500 metres; their Olympic gold and silver medal distances.

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