HEERENVEEN, Netherlands — Canada's Heather McLean is ranked in the top 10 after the first day of races at the world sprint speedskating championships on Saturday.
McLean was the top Canadian on the women's side, earning an 11th place result (38.10 seconds) in the 500 metres and 12th place finish (one minute 16.23 seconds) in the 1,000 metres. The Winnipeg native finished the day ranked ninth (76.215) in the overall standings, 1.44 seconds behind the leader.
"The race environment for the world championships here is great," said McLean, who is coming off a 10th place finish in the 500 metres at the world single distance championships a few weeks ago. "The crowd has a ton of energy and it's making this competition fun.
"As far as the races go I'm becoming more consistent with the opener in the 500 metres but the 1,000 metres is what I am most proud of right now. It's always been a challenging distance for me and it's really coming along the second half of this season. Looking forward to two more races tomorrow!"
Calgary's Kaylin Irvine finished only a few spots behind McLean in both distances, coming 13th (38.38) in the 500 metres and 16th in the 1,000 metres (1:16.92). She sits 15th overall (76.840), 2.07 seconds back of top spot.
Japan's Nao Kodaira (37.27) won gold in the 500 metres, ahead of Austria's Vanessa Herzog (37.31) and Russia's Angelina Golikova (37.49). In the 1,000 metres, American Brittany Bowe (1:14.60) was first overall, followed by Japan's Miho Takagi (1:14.82) and Russia's Daria Kachanova (1:14.94).
After the first day of competition, the women's top five includes Kodaira (74.775), Takagi (+0.26), Bowe (+0.42), Herzog (+0.43) and Kachanova (+0.70).
Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que. reached the top 10 in the men's 500 metres, finishing 10th with a time of 35.05. He also earned a 13th place (1:09.75) result in the 1,000 metres, helping him finish the day ranked 13th (69.925) in the overall standings, 1.16 seconds behind the leader.
Montreal's Christopher Fiola was 17th (35.31) in the 500 metres and 20th (1:10.47) in the 1,000 metres. The 22-year-old currently sits 19th overall (+1.78).
The men's 500 metres podium included Japan's Tatsuya Shinhama (34.66), Kai Verbij of the Netherlands (34.72), and world record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia (34.74). Kulizhnikov (1:08.06) also earned bronze in the 1,000 metres, behind silver medallist Masaya Yamada of Japan (1:08.03) and gold medallist Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands (1:07.86).
Kulizhnikov (68.770) is ranked first overall after opening day of the competition, ahead of Norway's Havard Holmefjord Lorentzen (+0.07), Nuis (+0.14), Shinhama (+0.18) and Yamada (+0.32).
The Canadian Press