Canada will be represented by a large contingent of 25 skaters at the ISU World Cup Long Track Speed Skating that will kick off the new 2015-2016 international season, November 13-15 at Calgary's Olympic Oval.
The 11 women and 14 men on the Canadian team will skate in the first 500m event, the women's 3000m and the men's 5000m on Friday, November 13, in the 1000m, team pursuit and sprint events on Saturday, as well as in the second 500m, the 1500m and the mass start, which will be added to the Olympic program at the 2018 Games, on Sunday.
Friday will mark Day 1 of the "For The Love of Speed Skating" program created by the Organizing Committee Calgary that aims to financially support Alberta-based speed skaters at the development and grassroots level. Fifty per cent of the money raised will go to AASSA to offset program and facility costs for member families. The association’s skaters and parents will collect donations during final two days of the World Cup in Calgary through a ‘pass the bucket’ promotion. While fifty per cent of money will go to individual Olympic Oval program speed skaters, by donation on behalf of OCC to the Intact Insurance Olympic Oval bursary. Oval skaters will collect donations during the opening day of the World Cup, Friday, Nov. 13. >MORE INFO ON PROGRAM
The team will be led by the World Cup mass start overall champion in 2014-2015, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, who will be looking to pick up where she left off last season. In addition to the mass start, Blondin, who won a silver medal in that discipline at the 2015 World Single Distance Championships, will also skate in the 1000m and 3000m events.
Second in 500m overall World Cup standings in 2014-2015 and silver medalist in that distance at last spring's World Single Distance Championships, Laurent Dubreuil from Lévis, Quebec, will take the ice in his specialty in Calgary.
“Our objective this season is to improve our ranking in each distance and to be among the top three countries in the world,” said the head coach for the long track national team, Mike Crowe. “We will be without Denny Morrison, but we believe our athletes will be able to replicate what he has accomplished by coming up with podiums in the middle distances and in team pursuit. We are working to build a very strong team from within and to have the first World Cup take place at home will only help us in attaining our goal. ”
Several Olympians from the 2014 Games will be in action, including Gilmore Junio of Calgary, Kali Christ of Regina, Marsha Hudey of White City (SK), Kaylin Irvine of Calgary, Brianne Tutt of Airdrie (AB) and William Dutton of Humboldt (SK).
Jordan Belchos of Toronto and Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, who won medals at the World Single Distance Championships, as well as Vincent De Haître from Cumberland (ON), who also won a medal in last season's World Cup Finale, will be part of the national team. Bloemen and Belchos beat the Canadian record in the 10 000m at the Fall World Cup Selections, with the new record now being held by Bloemen.
A new generation coming up
The Canadian squad will feature a good mix of veterans and up-and-coming skaters who will be making their World Cup debuts, including Ben Donnelly of Oshawa (ON).
Donnelly, age 19, beat the Canadian junior record in the 3000m in September and won the 1500m at the recent Fall World Cup Selections.
Martin Corbett of Uxbridge (ON) and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu from Sherbrooke (QC) will also be skating on the World Cup circuit for the very first time.
Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa, who made her World Cup debut last season, will also be a skater to watch for. After setting a new Canadian junior record in the 5000m last season, the 20-year-old skater finished second in the 5000m at the Selections a few weeks ago.
Other young skaters who did well at the Selections will also be able to show how much potential the Canadian team has. They are: Heather McLean of Winnipeg, age 22, who came up with wins in a 500m as well as in the 1000m at the Selections; Josie Spence of Kamloops, age 21, and Rob Watson of Whitby (ON), who won the mass start events; and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix from Sherbrooke (QC), who won one 500m as well as the 1000m.
From short track to long track
There will also be new faces making their debuts at the Calgary World Cup, as two Olympic medalists in short track, Jessica Gregg of Edmonton and Olivier Jean of Lachenaie (QC), will be skating alongside their long track teammates.
While Gregg took part in her first international competitions in long track last season after leaving short track following the Sochi Olympic Games, Olivier Jean will be making his international debut in long track.
After qualifying for this fall's World Cups in short track, Jean decided to move over to long track. A few weeks after his decision, he finished third in the 1500m at the long track Selections. He will skate in that distance this weekend.
Alexandre St-Jean of Quebec City and Stefan Waples of Winnipeg round out the Canadian team.
Members of the Canadian national team for ISU World Cup Long Track #1 in Calgary
-BLONDIN, Ivanie (Ottawa, ON) – 1000m, 3000m, mass start
-CHRIST, Kali (Regina, SK) – 1000m, 1500m, 3000m
-GREGG, Jessica (Edmonton, AB) – 500m
-HUDEY, Marsha (White City, SK) – 500m, 1000m
-IRVINE, Kaylin (Calgary, AB) – 500m, 1000m, 1500m
-McGUIRE, Lauren (Ottawa, ON) – 3000m
-McLEAN, Heather (Winnipeg, MB) – 500m, 1000m
-REMPEL, Shannon (Winnipeg, MB) – 500m
-SPENCE, Josie (Kamloops, B.C.) – 1500m, 3000m, mass start
-TUTT, Brianne (Airdrie, AB) – 1500m
-WEIDEMANN, Isabelle (Ottawa, ON) – 1500m, 3000m, mass start
-BELCHOS, Jordan (Toronto, ON) – 5000m, mass start
-BLOEMEN, Ted-Jan (Calgary, AB) – 1500m, 5000m
-BOISVERT-LACROIX, Alex (Sherbrooke, QC) – 500m, 1000m
-CORBETT, Martin (Uxbridge, ON) – 1500m
-De HAÎTRE, Vincent (Cumberland, ON) – 1000m, 1500m
-DONNELLY, Ben (Oshawa, ON) – 1500m, 5000m
-DUBREUIL, Laurent (Lévis, QC) – 500m
-DUTTON, William (Humboldt, SK) – 500m, 1000m
-GÉLINAS-BEAULIEU, Antoine (Sherbrooke, QC) – 5000m
-JEAN, Olivier (Lachenaie, QC) – 1500m
-JUNIO, Gilmore (Calgary, AB) – 500m, 1000m
-ST-JEAN, Alexandre (Quebec City, QC) – 500m, 1000m
-WAPLES, Stefan (Winnipeg, MB) – 5000m
-WATSON, Robert (Whitby, ON) – mass start