This article was originally published on the Speed Skating Canada website.
Bronze medalist in the men's 500m at the recent World Single Distance Championships, Laurent Dubreuil will lead a Canadian team made up of six skaters at the World Sprint Championships, set to take place Feb. 28 and March 1 in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Dubreuil (Lévis, QC) will be taking part in the competition along with Gilmore Junio (Calgary, AB) and Jamie Gregg (Edmonton, AB) on the men's side, as well as Kate Hanly (Calgary, AB), Marsha Hudey (White City, SK) and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) on the women's side. The event will consist of two 500m races and two 1000m events for both sexes for a cumulative ranking.
Dubreuil will try to continue to skate at the same level he has throughout the 2014-15 season. After missing his Olympic qualification for the Sochi Games by a narrow margin last year, he has bounced back and he became, two weeks ago in Heerenveen, the first male Canadian skater to collect a medal in the men's 500m at the World Single Distance Championships since Jeremy Wotherspoon who won gold in 2008. The 22-year-old athlete also won three bronze medals and one silver medal in that distance over the World Cup season.
“After my bronze medal in Heerenveen, whatever the rest of the season will bring will be a bit of a bonus,” said Dubreuil. “That being said, at last year's World Sprint Championships, I ended up ninth and I consider myself to be a better skater now. I will definitely aim to improve on that result and my goal is to slip into the top-5.”
Junio, for his part, earned eighth place in the men's 500m at the 2015 World Single Distance Championships. Marsha Hudey was 17th in the women's 500m, while Jessica Gregg was 22nd in the 1000m and 24th in the 500m.
At last year's World Sprint Championships held in Nagano, Japan, Dubreuil was the top Canadian in the men's 500m with a fourth-place finish. He ended up ninth in overall standings, behind William Dutton (Humboldt, SK), who was seventh, and Alexandre St-Jean (Quebec City, QC), eighth. In the women's competition, Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) was the sole Canadian skating and she earned fifth place in the 1000m to finish ninth overall.
The Canadian team will try to find a spot on the podium in overall standings for the first time since 2012 on the women's side (Christine Nesbitt, silver) and since 2008 in the men's competition (Jeremy Wotherspoon, silver).
Individually, Nesbitt is the last Canadian to have won a medal, in 2013 (gold and silver in the 1000m), while on the men's side, Jamie Gregg (two silvers in the 500m) and Gilmore Junio (bronze in the 500m) are the last Canadians to have ended up on the podium, also in 2013.
Over 45 editions of World Sprint Championships, Canada is ranked third with 29 medals (10 gold, 12 silver and seven bronze). Russia has the same total but is second because it has one more gold medal and one less bronze. The United States are first with 54 medals.
More information, including the complete schedule, can be found on Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.