Ben Donnelly, Kali Christ win speed skating races at World Cup Selections
Prevail in men's, women's 1,500-metre races
Ben Donnelly and Kali Christ won the men's and women's 1,500-metre races on Sunday at Speed Skating Canada's Fall World Cup Selections in Calgary.
Donnelly, from Oshawa, Ont., beat his previous personal best on his way to victory with a time of one minute 47.30 seconds in the men's competition. Calgary's Ted-Jan Bloemen (1:47.81) finished second while Olivier Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., was third (1:48.02).
Donnelly, who is 19-years-old and will still be eligible to skate at the world junior championships in 2016, improved his previous personal best by 90 hundredths of a second.
"I was trying to focus on the opener because usually I don't open too fast but today, I went faster and was able to carry my speed into the first and second lap, which allowed me in the long run to come up with a big personal best," said Donnelly. "This will motivate me to push harder so that I can skate faster and do well at the junior worlds."
Christ, from Regina, finished ahead of Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin by four hundredths of a second to win the women's 1,500. Christ registered a time of 1:57.03, compared to 1:57.07 for Blondin. Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, Alta., rounded out the podium (1:58.56).
"After this race, I know I have a lot more in me," said Christ, who was ranked first in the country in the 1,500 last season, while Blondin was second. "I'm going to work on my technical cues and incorporate those into my races, making sure everything is going in the right direction."
Watson, Spence tops in mass start
Also, Rob Watson of Whitby, Ont., and Josie Spence of Kamloops, B.C., finished first in the mass start, a new Olympic discipline.
Watson won the men's mass start, followed by Toronto's Jordan Belchos and Montreal's Christopher Fiola.
"It was a really fast race, but my goal was to stay relaxed and stay calm for as long as I could. I was able to save up enough energy for the end and I felt really strong," said Watson.
Spence shared the women's podium with her sisters Victoria and Sarah, who finished second and third respectively.
"The win means so much more to me because I had my sisters on the podium with me," said Josie Spence. "It's encouraging and we're pushing each other to be stronger."