Heather McLean, Jordan Belchos win mass starts at Canadian long track championships
Speed skates win 3rd national titles in a week
Heather McLean of Winnipeg and Toronto's Jordan Belchos both won their mass start race on Wednesday for their third national titles of the week at the Canadian single distance long track championships.
McLean won the women's mass start in a tight sprint finish ahead of Kali Christ and Victoria Spence of Kamloops, B.C., who came in second and third respectively.
McLean's win puts her in place to be nominated for Canada's second spot at the world single distance championships. Fellow Canadian Ivanie Blondin has already pre-qualified in the mass start at the worlds.
"I did mass start growing up for probably 15 years, so it's definitely something that I have experience in", said McLean, who won the 500 metre and 1,000 events earlier this week.
"If there was an opportunity for me to race it at world championships, it's on my bucket list, so it's definitely something that I would consider."
Belchos finished first in a breakaway finish, with Stefan Waples of Winnipeg taking the second spot. Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu of Sherbrooke, Que., finished in third.
"This race has been so fast at the World Cups, so I committed myself today, because I was pre-qualified, to try to make the race as tough as I can and just hope that the toughest guy won, whoever it was," said Belchos. "Stefan was the toughest guy with me and I'm happy for him."
Belchos also won the 5,000 and 10,000 events earlier in the week.
Waples' second-place finish puts him in position to be nominated to fill Canada's final spot in the men's mass start event at the world single distance championships.
Vincent de Haitre of Cumberland, Ont., added his second title of the competition by winning the 1,500 in one minute 45.73 seconds. Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., was second while Ben Donnelly of Oshawa, Ont., third.
De Haitre is pre-qualified in both events for World Cup No. 5 in Stavanger, Norway, from Jan. 29-31, and for the world single distance championships in Kolomna, Russia from Feb. 11-14.
Christ won gold in the women's 1,500 to reach the podium for the second time this week. She finished the race in 1:57.97, ahead of Spence and Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, Alta.
Along with de Haitre, Canada can send up to four more athletes in the 1,500 distance to World Cup No. 5 to fight for the only remaining spot at the world singles distance championships. Nick Goplen from Kelowna, B.C., took the fourth spot in Wednesday's event while Daniel Dubreuil of Levis, Que., finished fifth.
In the women's 1,500, Canada has no pre-qualified skaters and can send up to four athletes to World Cup No. 5. There are two spots up for grabs at the world single distance championships. Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann, both from Ottawa, finished fourth and fifth.