Heather McLean & Jordan Belchos each conclude the Canadian Single Distance Long Track Championships with a third title

Calgary, January 6, 2016 – Heather McLean of Winnipeg and Jordan Belchos of Toronto both won their mass start race, Wednesday, to each come up with their third national title of the week on the final day of Speed Skating Canada’s 2016 Canadian Single Distance Long Track Championships at Calgary Olympic Oval. Meanwhile, Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, ON, and Kali Christ of Regina, SK, won the 1500m events.
In the women’s mass start, Heather McLean won in a tight sprint finish ahead of Kali Christ and Victoria Spence of Kamloops, B.C., who came in second and third respectively.
With Ivanie Blondin being pre-qualified in the mass start for the World Single Distance Championships based on her performances in the fall World Cups, McLean’s win puts her in place to be nominated for the second spot that Canada has in that event.
“I did mass start growing up for probably 15 years, so it’s definitely something that I have experience in”, said McLean. “If there was an opportunity for me to race it at World Championships, it’s on my bucket list, so it’s definitely something that I would consider.”
This was McLean’s third victory this week, following her wins in the 500m and 1000m.
On the men’s side, Jordan Belchos finished first in a breakaway finish with Stefan Waples of Winnipeg taking the second spot. Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu of Sherbrooke, QC, finished in third position.
“This race has been so fast at the World Cups, so I committed myself today, because I was pre-qualified, to try to make the race as tough as I can and just hope that the toughest guy won, whoever it was,” said Belchos. “Stefan was the toughest guy with me and I’m happy for him.”
With Stefan Waples' second-place finish, he is poised to be nominated by Speed Skating Canada to fill the final spot that Canada has in the men's mass start event at the World Single Distance Championships.
Earlier this week, Belchos also won the 5000m and 10 000m events.
Second national title for Vincent de Haître
Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, ON, added his second title of the competition by winning the 1500m in a time of 1:45.73, followed by Olivier Jean (1:46.52) of Lachenaie, QC, and Ben Donnelly (1:46.96) of Oshawa, ON. Tuesday, he also won the men’s 1000m.
De Haître is pre-qualified in both events for World Cup #5 in Stavanger, Norway, January 29-31, and for the World Single Distance Championships in Kolomna, Russia, February 11-14.
“My coach and I wanted to show why I was pre-qualified for the 1000m and the 1500m, so I’m glad that I could win both. I think I executed my race plan very well and even though I am managing a groin injury from yesterday’s 500m, it didn’t affect me as much as I thought it would,” explained de Haître.
“For the World Single Distance Championships, the goal is to finish among the top five in the 1000m and the top 10 in the 1500m, and I think those are realistic objectives based on performances this year. If I could leave the World Championships with two top-10 finishes, I think it would be a successful competition. To put icing on the cake, a medal would be nicer,” said de Haître.
On the women’s side, Kali Christ ended up on the podium for the second time this week, winning gold in the 1500m with a time of 1:57.97 and therefore keeping her crown from last season. Silver went to Josie Spence (1:59.25) of Kamloops, B.C., and bronze to Brianne Tutt (1:59.60) of Airdrie, AB.
“It was pretty good and technically I kept it together better than I have in the past, so overall I’m happy,” said Christ. “It was a slow start to the season, so knowing that my trend of peaking at the right times is still on point, it’s a good feeling going into the rest of the season. I want to qualify for the World Championships and focus on that, and also focus on working on the technical side of my skating because I know that the physical side is there.”
Along with de Haître, Canada can send up to four more athletes in the 1500m distance to World Cup #5 to battle for the only remaining spot at the World Singles Distance Championships. Nick Goplen from Kelowna, B.C., took the fourth spot in Wednesday’s event while Daniel Dubreuil of Lévis, QC, finished fifth.
In the women’s 1500m, Canada has no pre-qualified skaters and can send up to four athletes to World Cup #5, where there are two spots up for grabs at the World Single Distance Championships. Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann, both from Ottawa, finished fourth and fifth.
Speed Skating Canada will announce the Canadian Team's final roster for World Cup #5 following the Canadian Single Distance Championships.
Podiums from Wednesday’s competition:
Canadian Single Distance Championships
1500m W
1. Kali Christ, SK (1:57.97)
2. Josie Spence, B.C. (1:59.25)
3. Brianne Tutt, AB (1:59.60)
1500m M
1. Vincent de Haître, ON (1:45.73)
2. Olivier Jean, QC (1 :46.52)
3. Ben Donnelly, ON (1:46.96)
Mass Start W
1. Heather McLean, MB
2. Kali Christ, SK
3. Victoria Spence, B.C.
Mass Start M
1. Jordan Belchos, ON
2. Stefan Waples, MB
3. Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu, QC
Canada Cup #2
1500m M
1. Tyson Langelaar, MB (1:51.06)
2. Eirik Nergaard, NOR (1:51.31)
3. Guillaume Labbé, QC (1:51.69)
5. Jacob Graham, BC (1:51.95)
1500m W
1. Allison Bates, AB (2:04.95)
2. Abigail McCluskey, B.C. (2:05.34)
3. Meryem Labidi, QC (2:06.10)
Mass Start M
1. Graeme Fish, SK
2. Jean-Christophe Lataille, AB
3. Cameron Mason, ON
Mass Start W
1. Carolane Gingras, QC
2. Laurence Paquet, QC
3. Véronique Déry, QC
More information can be found on 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 and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

- 30 -

For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
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 

Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-589-8960
Website: www.speedskating.ca  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC