Calgary, AB – Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Quebec, won both races slated on the men's side, i.e. the first 1000m event and the second 500m, in addition to improving on his personal bests in both distances, Saturday, on the third day of Speed Skating Canada's Fall World Cup Selections.
Boisvert-Lacroix, a former member of the short track national team who switched over to long track after the Vancouver Olympic Games, came up with his first-ever Canadian title at a national selection event when he won the second 500m race of the weekend. His time of 34.63 allowed him to improve his personal best by seven hundredths of a second.
Boisvert-Lacroix, who was sixth on Friday in the weekend's first 500m and fourth in final national standings last season in that distance, finished ahead of Canadian title holder Laurent Dubreuil (34.77), of Lévis, Quebec, and Gilmore Junio of Calgary (34.82). Junio was fourth in Friday's 500m race.
A few hours later, Saturday, Boisvert-Lacroix came up with his second win of the day in identical fashion, in that he also set a new personal best. His time of 1:08.96 allowed him to erase his former mark of 1:09.32, and also to finish ahead of Alexandre St-Jean of Quebec City (1:08.99) and Gilmore Junio (1:09.09). Boisvert-Lacroix was 11th in the men's 1000m final national standings last season.
“It’s the first time I’ve won a race at trials, so it’s really exciting. I had a really good start, so it gave me a good draft on the backstretch. I finished my race really strong. I looked at the board and saw a personal best. It was a really exciting moment because my personal best was from 2012 and I’m happy to break it at age 28. It bodes well for the future,” said Boisvert-Lacroix.
“I was feeling strong and it came out pretty well today. Yesterday I had an average race, but I bounced back today.”
Another win and another personal best for Heather McLean
For her part, Heather McLean of Winnipeg won her second race of the weekend and also set another personal best, this time in the first of two women's 1000m slated during the selections.
McLean, a 22-year-old athlete who was second in last season's final national standings in that distance, finished the 1000m race in 1:15.93, improving on her previous personal best by 60 hundredths of a second and giving her first place. Kaylin Irvine of Calgary was second (1:16.32), while Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa was third (1:16.40).
Friday, McLean improved her personal best in the 500m by more than 30 hundredths of a second.
“I think the reason why I feel so strong and why I am able to achieve these personal bests has a lot to do with the training group and my coach,” said McLean. “The training group is a lot different from last year. I think there’s speed I never knew I had and I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates for bringing that out. It’s building my confidence. I want to be able to compete with the best in the world and I think these personal bests and wins give me the confidence to do that.”
McLean was unable to sweep the day's races, however, as she ended up second in Saturday's 500m. She finished behind Marsha Hudey of White City, Saskatchewan, and ahead of Jessica Greg of Edmonton. All three skaters were also on the podium in Friday's 500m.
Saturday, Marsha Hudey was able to switch places with McLean compared to the previous day's results thanks to a time, of 37.79, a new personal best by 33 hundredths of a second. McLean had a slower time than Friday's, finishing the race this time in 37.98, while Gregg skated to a time of 38.45.
“I was focused on the execution and what to do to put it together, and it came together today,” said Marsha Hudey, who was second in last season's final national standings in the 500m distance. “It’s really exciting this early in the season to have a personal best.”
Laurent Dubreuil suffers injury
Laurent Dubreuil, the bronze medalist in the 500m at the 2015 World Single Distance Championships and second in overall World Cup standings in that distance over the 2014-2015 season, had to bow out of the competition after sustaining a groin injury while skating in Saturday's 500m.
After winning the weekend's first 500m event, Friday, Dubreuil finished second on Saturday, behind Boisvert-Lacroix, with a time that was a tenth of a second slower than the day before.
“I didn’t feel anything during the race, but right after there was a sharp pain. My physio wants me to take a week off. Hopefully I’ll be ready for the start of the World Cup season,” said Laurent Dubreuil. “I wanted to race in the 1000m and prove I was good enough to qualify, but now I have to wait and see how the other skaters do, and how my bye request goes. I have three weeks to heal and get better technically.”
Vincent de Haître of Cumberland, Ontario, also pulled out of the competition due to a groin injury.
The 57 athletes taking part in this competition, held at the same time as the Oval Invitational events, are vying for a spot on the Canadian national team that will skate at this fall's four World Cup stages, i.e. in Calgary (November 13-15), Salt Lake City, USA (November 20-22), Inzell, Germany (December 4-6) and Heerenveen, Netherlands (December 11-13).
The races at the Fall World Cup Selections will end on Sunday. The 1500m races and the mass start events will be held starting at 11 am. Admission is free.
More details and the complete schedule are available on Speed Skating Canada’s website at www.speedskating.ca.