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Dubreuil wins gold, Blondin and De Haitre collect silver at World Cup


HEERENVEEN, Netherlands — Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., came up with his first-ever individual gold medal on the World Cup circuit Saturday as he won the men's 500 metres.

Vincent De Haitre of Cumberland, Ont., took silver in the 1,500-metre distance for his first career World Cup medal. Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin also collected silver in the women's mass start on the second day of the ISU World Cup long track speed-skating stage.

"I wasn't sure if I had the legs to win today," said Dubreuil. "I was in the second pairing at the start, so it was a matter of coming up with the best race possible and then waiting for the rest of the event to unfold. After my race, I knew I had a chance to win it, but there are so many skaters who can beat you in the 500 metres. Some skaters came close, but weren't quite able to do it. I still don't quite realize what I've accomplished.

"It's also the first time for my coach Gregor Jelonek to have an athlete win a World Cup gold medal. We shared a big hug after the race. We're both on cloud nine!"

Winning the silver medal means Blondin has prequalified for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, providing that Canada qualifies at least one spot in this event by having one skater finish among the top 16 in the Special Olympic Qualification Classification (SOQC), an overall ranking that takes into account the four World Cup stages to be held this Fall.

As for Dubreuil and De Haitre, their medals brought them one step closer to the Olympic Games. Following the four Fall World Cups, if they finish among the top five in the SOQC, as per some conditions (including that Canada qualifies at least one spot in this event), they would be prequalified for the 500 metres and 1,500 metres respectively.

The Associated Press

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