HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS, Feb 12: Laurent Dubreuil of Canada poses in the Men's 500m medal ceremony during the ISU World Speed Skating Championships at Thialf on February 12, 2021 in Heerenveen, Netherlands.(Photo by Rafal Oleksiewicz/Speed Skating Canada)

Canadian sprinter Laurent Dubreuil was crowned 500m world champion on Friday, etching his name into the record books with a historic gold medal performance at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen.

Dubreuil (Lévis, Que.) clocked in with an impressive time of 34.398 – his fastest of the season by far – which put him ahead of defending world champion and world record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia (+0.14) and Dai Dai N’tab of the Netherlands (+0.23). Despite only touching the ice a handful of times since the start of the pandemic, he wraps up his impressive 500m campaign with three World Cup medals (two silver, one bronze) and a World Championship title.

“My race was just as I had imagined it. It was really important for me to have a good start and I did just that. My first 300 meters was pretty good. In the last corner, I lost my balance a little bit, but at that speed it’s completely normal. The last 200 meters wasn’t my finest and it’s a part I would like to re-do, but overall, it was really good race, maybe the best race of my career. Canadian speed skating has such an incredible history and I have had the chance to rub shoulders with a some of the legends of our sport. I am far from being considered a legend, but if my performance can inspire just a few people it will be a tremendous honour for me.” – Laurent Dubreuil

With his career-best performance, the 28-year old becomes only the second Canadian to win World Championship gold in the 500m, joining three time winner Jeremy Wotherspoon who accomplished the feat in 2003, 2004 and 2007.

Canada also earned two silver medals in the Team Pursuit on Friday.

After winning a pair of World Cup gold medals to start the season, the Canadian team of Isabelle Weidemann (Ottawa, Ont.), Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, Ont.) and Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, Que.) came up just short of being crowned world champions. Their Dutch counterparts Ireen Wüst, Irene Schouten and Antoinette de Jong – who settled for silver at both World Cups – finally got the better of them in the final race of the campaign, edging out their rivals at the finish line by only 0.17 seconds.

With the win, the Netherlands (2:55.795) earned their second consecutive and sixth overall world title, ahead of Canada (2:55.973) and Russia (2:59.358). It marks the eighth World Championship medal captured by Canadian women since the discipline was added to the international program in 2005. They had previously won three gold (2007, 2009 and 2011), three silver (2005, 2008 and 2012) and one bronze (2020).

The Canadian men’s team of Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, Alta.), Jordan Belchos (Toronto, Ont.) and Connor Howe (Canmore, Alta.) also brought home silver with a time of 3:41.711, behind the Netherlands (3:41.429) and ahead of Russia (3:42.662). The Dutch have dominated the men’s Team Pursuit, winning gold in all but one year since it debuted in 2005.

The podium performance helped 20-year old Howe earn the first World Championship medal of his career. The youngster only began skating alongside veterans Bloemen and Belchos – who previously medaled in this event in 2015 (silver) and 2016 (bronze) – four short weeks ago. Canada also earned silver medals in 2011 and 2007.

The ISU World Championships continue Saturday with the finals for the 1000m and Mass Start. Defending Mass Start world champion Ivanie Blondin will look to defend her title, while World Championship medalists from last season Jordan Belchos (silver in the Mass Start) and Laurent Dubreuil (bronze in the 1000m) are poised to repeat their podium performances.