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15 February 2009 | in Long Track Speed Skating, Winter Universiade, NUSF News

CAN Announces Long Track Speed Skating Team

Canada's long track speed skaters will make their Universiade debut when the 24th Winter Universiade begins February 18 in Harbin, China.

Although long track speed skating has been an optional sport at the past two Universiades, this will mark the first time Canada sends a team to compete at the bi-annual games. Led by team leader and coach Gregor Jelonek and coach Todd McClements, the Canadian delegation is comprised of four male and four female student-athletes.

Thanks to the venue legacy from the 1988 Olympics, a heavy flavouring of University of Calgary skaters are on the roster that will head to China. Half of the Canadian team, two women and two men, make the Calgary Olympic Oval their training ground.

Kirsti LayLeading the way on the women's side is Medicine Hat's Kirsti Lay. A member of Speed Skating Canada's National Development Team for two years, Lay posted impressive results at the CanAm Internationals earlier this season. Finishing on the podium at all six distances, she won gold in the 1000, 1500 and 3000-meter races.

Anastacia Bucsis of Calgary is the youngest skater on the women's roster. A silver medalist for Alberta in the 500-meter event at the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Bucsis also posted a pair of podium finishes in CanAm competition this season.

Shannon Sibold, who is also a U of C student but trains in Quebec City, has also enjoyed podium success this season. A member of the National Development Team, she won the 3000-meter race at a Canada Cup event in January.

Rounding out the women's team is Quebec City's Justine L'Heureux, who boasts the most comprehensive skating résumé heading into the Harbin games. L'Heureux competed at two World Cup events in the 2008-09 season, and also competed at the 2007 world junior championships in Changchun, China, finishing second in the overall rankings thanks to a silver-medal finish in the 1500-meter event.

Speed Skating Canada communications manager Mylène Croteau explained how the depth of the National Women's Team makes Canada's Universiade entry even stronger than some would expect.

"All four of the girls have a chance at posting some very good times. It's very difficult to fight your way onto the national team right now because we've got such depth at the top of the World Cup roster. We've got five women on our World Cup team who are in the top-5 in the world at their discipline."

Vincent BlouinFor the men, two prairie skaters and two Quebec athletes will carry the medal hopes for Canada's maiden entry at the Universiade.

Philippe Riopel of Lachenaie, Que., has emerged as a recent fixture for Canada on the international skating calendar, competing in four of the seven World Cup events so far this season. He won a silver medal in the 500 meters at the 2007 world junior championships.

A member of Speed Skating Canada's Talent 2014 roster, Vincent Blouin of Quebec City (U Laval) has enjoyed mixed results this season. At a Canada Cup event in Richmond, B.C., in January, Blouin posted a fourth-place finish in the 1500 meters to go along with a pair of seventh-place showings in the 5000 and 10 000-meter events.

Mykola Makowsky of Regina (U of C) has registered four podium finishes on the Canada Cup circuit in 2008, highlighted by a gold-medal skate in the 1500-meter event at the first meet of the season. Makowsky is on the National Development Team and is the older brother of current National Team skater Lucas Makowsky.

Another member of the Talent 2014 Team, Keith Sulzer of Calgary (U of C) posted respectable results in his first trip to the Canadian championships, skating to a ninth-place finish in the 10 000 meters and an 11th-place showing at 5000 meters. Sulzer was a key contributor for Team Alberta at the 2007 Canada Winter Games, posting four podium finishes including a gold-medal performance at 1500 meters.

"The men's team should do very well at the games," said Jelonek. "Philippe Riopel is probably going to be the next skater from this group of athletes that you'll see at a World Cup event and Keith Sulzer has posted some very good times in the longer distances. I'm very excited about some of the shorter races like the 1000 and 1500, because we have the kind of depth where more than one skater can medal."

Located at Harbin Ice training Base, the Heilongjiang Speed Skating Gym will serve as the venue for the long track events.

The Canadian women and men will compete in 500, 1000, 1500, 3000 and 5000-meter races. They will not take part in the men's 10 000-meter nor the team pursuit events.

 

 

 

TEAM CANADA WOMEN'S ROSTER
Anastasia Bucsis (Calgary/Calgary, Alta.)
Kirsti Lay (Calgary/Medicine Hat, Alta.)
Justine L’Heureux (Cégep correspondance/Quebec City, Que.)
Shannon Sibold (Calgary/Quebec City, Que.)

TEAM CANADA MEN'S ROSTER

 Vincent Blouin (Laval/Quebec City, Que.)
Mykola Makowsky (Calgary/Regina, Sask.)
Philippe Riopel (Cégep correspondance/  Lachenaie, Que.)
Keith Sulzer (Calgary/Calgary, Alta.)

 

STAFF

Team Leader & Coach: Gregor Jelonek
Coach: Todd McClements