Inzell, Germany, December 6, 2015 – Heather McLean won her first career individual medal on the World Cup circuit, a bronze in the women's 500m, while Alex Boisvert-Lacroix and Ivanie Blondin each won a silver respectively in the men's 500m and women's mass start, Sunday, on the last day of the third stage of the 2015-2016 World Cup season, held in Inzell, Germany.
Canada therefore came up with a total of five medals over the weekend, as Gilmore Junio won gold and Alexandre St-Jean collected silver on Friday, in the first 500m event of the weekend. The national team now has 19 medals for the season, its highest total since it won 21 in 2010-2011.
In the second women's 500m of the weekend, Heather McLean of Winnipeg, MB, was able to improve on her fourth-place finish from Friday's race in that distance by collecting her first career medal, a bronze, with a time of 38.02. She finished behind Sang-Hwa Lee (37.36) of South Korea and Heather Richardson-Bergsma (37.84) of the United States.
That was Canada's first podium finish in that event since Christine Nesbitt won bronze at the World Cup Final in March of 2012 in Berlin, Germany.
“I'm pretty excited about it. My fourth place on Friday was a bit of a surprise,” said Heather McLean. “Today, I had a little bit more pressure. But I knew that if I stayed confident and did what I wanted to do during my race, it could happen.”
Heather McLean, who will turn 23 years of age on January 4, is therefore continuing her upward trend. She started out the season in the B division and then respectively finished 10th, 14th, 6th, and then fourth on Friday and third on Sunday in her last five 500m races on the World Cup circuit.
“To be able to be on the podium with these girls, especially with Sang-Hwa (Lee) is very special,” said Heathler McLean, who is part of a training group in Calgary that also includes Lee, Maki Tsuji of Japan and Mika Poutala of Finland, as well as fellow Canadians Gilmore Junio, William Dutton, Marsha Hudey and Jessica Gregg.
“Sang-Hwa Lee has had a huge influence on my training and my skating this year. I definitively need to give her some credit, as well as to the training group that my coach (Kevin Crockett) has put together, which has definitely helped me improve a lot. It's inspiring to train with my training group in Calgary and it is a huge part of my success this season.”
Her teammate Marsha Hudey (38.31) of White City, SK, was sixth, therefore earning her best career ranking in a 500m race. She finished 13th in Salt Lake City two weeks ago.
Alex Boisvert-Lacroix earns second podium finish
On the men's side, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, QC, stepped on the podium for the second time this season following a 500m race.
Poland's Artur Was won gold in 34.65, followed by Boisvert-Lacroix (34.74) and Kai Verbij (34.80) of the Netherlands.
After winning gold on Friday, Gilmore Junio (34.83) finished fourth, only four hundredths of a second away from a podium finish. Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, QC, was ninth (34.95), while William Dutton of Humboldt, SK, was 14th (35.04). Alex St-Jean of Quebec City, who won silver in Friday's 500m, was 16th (35.08).
World Cup overall leader Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia was not at the competition due to health issues.
This is a second career medal on the long track World Cup circuit for Alex Boisvert-Lacroix, who moved from short track to long track in the fall of 2010. At the first World Cup stage of the season in Calgary, he collected bronze in the 500m.
“It really feels great,” said Alex Boisvert-Lacroix. “Let's say that since the Calgary World Cup, I was really looking forward to getting back on the podium. In fact, since my medal, I've always been a tenth of a second or less away from a podium. I've therefore always been close and I knew I would be able to return at some point. Today, the execution was there. The big difference this year, also, is that I'm in great shape. I had the best summer of my life in terms of training.”
However, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix has had to deal with a hip injury since the World Cup held in Salt Lake City.
“Friday, I'd say I was at about 87 % of my top physical form. I wasn't really satisfied with my race (9th in the 500m). Today, I still hadn't completely recovered, but I still went ahead with the race and I delivered on the ice. I felt good. My coach (Gregor Jelonek) knew I would come out with a strong showing today because I was determined, even a bit peeved,” said the 28-year-old skater, who did not skate in Saturday's 1000m to better prepare for Sunday's 500m.
A bittersweet silver medal for Ivanie Blondin
In the mass start, Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa won a medal in that discipline for a third straight World Cup as she came up with silver. She also finished second in Salt Lake City and collected bronze at the first stage of the World Cup season in Calgary.
Blondin (8:18.41) finished only two hundredths of a second behind Irene Schouten (8:18.43) of the Netherlands, who won gold. Do-Young Park of South Korea came up with the bronze.
“This medal hurts because I was really going for gold,” admitted Ivanie Blondin. “In the next-to-last straight, I was pushed by a Japanese skater and I think that cost me gold today. At the same time, I really gave it my all in the last straight. Another step and I think I would have nailed it. It hurts when you really want gold. Finishing second for the second straight time, it's not a great feeling but at the same time, I'm happy I earned another medal for Canada.”
Josie Spence of Kamloops, BC, was 20th. In the men's mass start, Rob Watson of Whitby, ON, was sixth while Jordan Belchos of Toronto was 9th.
In the men's 1500m, Vincent De Haître of Cumberland, ON, was 11th with a time of 1:47.212. That was the best performance of his career, after finishing 12th at the Salt Lake City stage.
Kali Christ of Regina, SK, won the B division race in the women's 1500m with a time of 1:58.20.
“I tried something new for the first couple of laps by swaying only one arm,” said Kali Christ. “I hope I will move up to the A group next weekend and continue my history of skating really good races in Heerenveen.”
The fourth ISU World Cup stage in long track speed skating will take place December 11-13 in Heerenveen, Netherlands.
SUNDAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS
500m (2) M - A
SILVER: Alex Boisvert-Lacroix: 34.74
4: Gilmore Junio: 34.83
9: Laurent Dubreuil: 34.95
14: William Dutton: 35.04
16: Alexandre St-Jean: 35.10
Mass Start W - A
SILVER: Ivanie Blondin
20: Josie Spence
500m (2) W - A
BRONZE: Heather McLean: 38.02
6: Marsha Hudey: 38.31
Mass Start M - A
6: Robert Watson
9: Jordan Belchos
1500m M - A
11: Vincent De Haître: 1:47.212
1500m W - B
1: Kali Christ: 1:58.20
11: Isabelle Weidemann: 2:01.33
500m (2) W - B
6: Kaylin Irvine: 39.19
Départ en groupe W - B
9: Isabelle Weidemann
1500m M - B
14: Olivier Jean: 1:49.45
Départ en groupe M - B
15: Olivier Jean
More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.