Valerie Maltais crushes personal best to win 1,000m at Canadian speed skating trials

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Canada's Valerie Maltais, seen above in 2018, won the women's 1,000 metres at the national long track speed skating championships in Calgary on Friday. (Peter Dejong/The Associated Press - image credit)
Canada's Valerie Maltais, seen above in 2018, won the women's 1,000 metres at the national long track speed skating championships in Calgary on Friday. (Peter Dejong/The Associated Press - image credit)

Heading toward what would be her fourth Olympics, Valerie Maltais appears to be on a mission in her new discipline.

Maltais won the 1,000 metres at the Canadian long track speed skating championships on Friday with a personal-best time of one minute 14.95 seconds.

Her previous mark, set in September, was 1:17.12.

"I was so surprised by my race, by my results. When I crossed the line I could not believe it. Today was just basically preparing myself for the [1,500 on Saturday]. I know I'm fast, I know I can do some good stuff, but today was just focusing on that and not on the outcome and it worked out," Maltais, 31, told CBC Sports' Anastasia Bucsis after the race.

The La Baie, Que., native previously competed at Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018 as a short track skater, but had come to be known for longer distances following her switch to the long track team.

Maltais was part of the silver-medal 3,000-metre relay team in Sochi, but has never placed higher than sixth in any of her other eight events.

She made the move to long track after the 2018 Games.

Calgary's Kaylin Irvine, 31, placed second with a time of 1:15.39 while Maddison Pearman of Ponoka, Alta., was third in 1:15.60 at Calgary's Olympic Oval.

WATCH | Isabelle Weidemann sets Canadian 5,000 record on Thursday:

Meanwhile, Laurent Dubreuil collected his second victory of the meet by taking the men's 1,000.

Dubreuil, a 29-year-old from Levis, Que., crossed the finish line in 1:07.29, just ahead of Canadian record holder Vincent De Haitre, who clocked a time of 1:08.02. Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu finished third at 1:08.10.

Dubreuil started on world-record pace, setting a 600-metre split mark at 40.28 seconds after his opening lap of 15.92.

"I feel great, but it hurts a lot to start that fast. So I have to pump myself up to do it again next time," Dubreuil said.

De Haitre, who was born in Ottawa, is just months removed from competing in the track cycling team pursuit at the Tokyo Summer Olympics. The 27-year-old previously represented Canada as a speed skater in Pyeongchang, too.

"Being that it's only week eight now of my comeback, I think the race was a big success. Things to work on and had a bit of a groin injury going into so I know there's some more time in there and I look forward to showing what I can do later on this year," De Haitre said.

Dubreuil placed 25th in the 1,000 in his Olympic debut in 2018. He won the 500 on the opening day of trials on Wednesday.

Live coverage from Calgary continues on CBCSports.ca on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET with the women's and men's 1,500.

WATCH | Day 3 of the long track national championships:

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