Canada's Laurent Dubreuil earns two speedskating bronze medals in World Cup finale

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HEERENVEEN, Netherlands — Canada's speedskating team capped its last warmup for the world championship with a pair of sprint bronze medals from Laurent Dubreuil on Sunday.

The 28-year-old from Levis, Que., was third in the World Cup men's 500 and 1,000-metres a day after taking silver in another 500.

"I'm pretty tired, but the day went really well," Dubreuil said.

Canada finished the three-day World Cup with six medals, including gold in women's team pursuit.

The global COVID-19 pandemic shrunk the speedskating season to a pair of World Cup events in Heerenveen the last two weeks, with the Feb. 11-14 world championship to be held in the same venue.

Canada's speedskaters faced the added challenge of no ice to skate on at Calgary's Olympic Oval because of a mechanical failure in September.

They had two weeks of indoor training in Fort St. John, B.C., in November and otherwise skated outdoors in Red Deer, Alta., or did short-track training in Calgary.

But Canadians won a combined 11 medals in Heerenveen's two World Cups, including two gold from the women's pursuit team of Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Wiedemann and Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Que.

Dubreuil was three-hundredths of a second back of Dutch winner Ronald Muller's 34.594 seconds in Sunday's 500 metres. Hein Otterspeer of the Netherland was second in 34.590.

"The difference between victory and fourth place was very slim," Dubreuil said. "I was a little too passive on my last corner and it probably cost me gold, but I can't be mad because I won a medal."

The Canadian as the only non-Dutch among the top five men in the 1,000 metres.

Kai Verbij was the victor in one minute 7.355 seconds ahead of teammate Thomas Krol in 1:07.581 and Dubreuil in 1:08.185.

"I could not have done any better," Dubreuil said. "The two guys who finished ahead of me are exceptional and really in a league of their own.

"I knew I had a chance to beat everyone else, but beating those two guys is unthinkable, so finishing third is really the best I could have done today."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2021.

The Canadian Press