Vincent Labrie likely to skate at Asian World Cups after injury
Canadian speed skaters competed with various degrees of success at the first two World Cups of the season, in Berlin and Heerenveen. The Canadian middle distance women were very successful, but the sprint men encountered some serious setbacks due to several severe falls. Among these less fortunate skaters was Vincent Labrie, who got injured at the start of his second 500m in Heerenveen.
By Jolanda Abbes
The first two World Cups of this pre-Olympic season proved to be competitions of extremes for the Canadian long track speed skating team. Where the women claimed many medals in the middle distances, the men had to deal with several serious injuries after falls in the 500m. Especially the 1500m was a very successful distance for the Canadian women: at the first World Cup in Berlin, Kristina Groves, Brittany Schussler and Shannon Rempel respectively took the gold, silver and bronze medal and the weekend after that in Heerenveen Groves claimed another gold medal in the 1500m, whereas Christine Nesbitt raced to the bronze. But the 1000m was successful for the Canadian women as well: gold for Nesbitt in Berlin as well as in Heerenveen and silver medals for Rempel and Groves in respectively Berlin and Heerenveen. So that’s a total of nine out of the twelve medals that were to be won: an impressive way to start out the season.
The Canadian men on the other hand were not quite as successful, mostly due to several injuries. In Berlin, the Canadian sprint team lost two very important skaters after serious falls in the 500m: Jeremy Wotherspoon and Mike Ireland fell and injured their left arms in such a way that they were both forced to return home. It’s still uncertain what the rest of their season will look like. Mylčne Croteau, Communications Manager for Speed Skating Canada, said: “Jeremy broke his left humerus when he fell in the last corner of the second 500m race in Berlin. Doctors then didn’t think he would require surgery, but upon his return to Canada and re-evaluation by specialists here, it was decided that it would be best to have surgery. He was operated on last Thursday, and a metal plate as well as 8 screws were inserted. In terms of recovery, he has a meeting with the surgeon next week to follow-up, and will have a better idea then of when he can resume training and so on. As for Mike, he dislocated his shoulder, and didn’t need surgery. He fell in the first 500m race, also in Berlin. Normal recovery time for this type of injury is 3-6 months, normally shorter if no surgery is required, so if all goes well, Mike should be back in the next few months – training, at the least.”
Just a week after the unfortunate Berlin World Cup, Vincent Labrie came very close to joining Wotherspoon and Ireland when he cut himself with a skate at the start of his second 500m in Heerenveen. Up until then he was looking back on a good start of the season: “The season is still very young, but I had some good moments in training prior to the World Cup season and I think the first races at the World Cups were pretty good. I'm making progress in training so I'm happy with that.” In Berlin Labrie raced to a 35.59 (10th) and a 35.43 (10th) in the 500m. In Heerenveen he was the only Canadian left competing in the A group and finished 14th in his first 500m (35.52). However, he was not so fortunate in his second 500m.
At the start of his second 500m in Heerenveen Labrie toed into the ice and consequently fell over, cutting his right leg with the blade of his skate: “Before the race I was thinking too much about the result and the things I should and shouldn't do. I managed to regain my focus for the first start, after the false start I started to think too much and lost my focus. I tried to go too fast, the tip of my left blade hit the ice and I fell. I know why it happened, so now it tells me that I'm going to keep working on my mental preparation as the season continues.” Labrie cut the inner part of his shin, but there were no muscles or tendons touched, just some minor nerves. He did need several stitches though: “The lower part of my shin is kind of numb now but the feeling should come back. I should be able to get back on the ice as soon as the stitches are out, so by this Monday. Then I'll see how I feel, I'll take the time to make sure everything is fine before I get back, I'll work on the muscles around it and it should be fine. I'm planning on going to Asia for both World Cups. The season is long and I'll take every opportunity to get on the ice and work on my skating.”
Despite this rocky start, Labrie is looking forward to the rest of the season with confidence: “The season is long, I want to enjoy every minute I'm on the ice and work on my physical, technical and mental strengths as I always do, get better at it and move forward. I want to enjoy the season as much as I can and will be working on these three main aspects of speed skating every day. It should lead me on the right track! It comes down to the fact that I want to go fast!” With respect to the misfortune for the Canadian sprint team, Labrie tries to see the upside of the situation and feels that in the end everything will work out alright: “I think it was just bad luck. Everything happens for a reason and hopefully the situation is going to make us grow stronger and come back skating very fast on the ice when the right time comes for each one of us.”
Photo credits: DESGphoto/Lars Hagen