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Canada wins 6 medals as international long-track speedskating returns to Quebec

The Canadian team captured six medals, including three gold, to open the ISU Four Continents Speed Skating Championships on Friday.

Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, Que., kicked things off with a victory in the 500 metres at the new Centre de glace Intact Assurance, in Quebec City’s first international long-track speedskating competition in 30 years.

Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Que., won gold in the women’s 3,000 metres, while Dubreuil, and Montreal’s Christopher Fiola and David La Rue won gold in the men’s team sprint event.

In the men’s 500, Dubreuil crossed in 34.462 seconds.

“This first international race in Quebec City was a lot of fun,” Dubreuil said. “We’ve been waiting for it for a long time and I’m happy I was able to deliver a good performance today. It was a good race in general. I really wanted to perform well because there were a lot of people that came to watch me skate. It was a definitely a memorable moment after my victory, with the fans cheering on and my family . . . in the stands.”

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Japan’s Yuma Murakami, who trained with the Canadian team in Quebec City this past summer, won silver (34.880), while Korea’s Jun-Ho Kim (34.978) captured the bronze.

Maltais captured her first international senior gold in the 3,000 metres, winning gold in four minutes 3.150 seconds. Béatrice Lamarche of Quebec City won bronze (4:10.666). Kazakhstan’s Nadezhda Morozova (4:05.517) raced to silver.

“It’s very special to win an individual distance medal in long track,” Maltais said. “Today, my approach was to believe that I could win, something that I’ve never had in an individual distance since I switched to long track. That approach gave me good energy, and not only did I win today, but I skated a season best time and executed one of my best-ever races.

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“Being able to win at home was amazing. There was really a special energy in the building. The fans were cheering so loudly that you could feel it each time you skated by the stands on the straight.”

Jordan Belchos of Toronto added a bronze in the men’s 5,000.

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Alison Desmarais of Vanderhoof, B.C., Rose Laliberté-Roy of Saint-Étienne, Que., and Abigail McCluskey of Penticton, B.C., won bronze in the women’s team sprint to cap the day.

The men’s and women’s 1,500 metres and mass start races are Saturday.

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