Laurent Dubreuil tests positive for COVID-19 at speed skating world championships

Canada’s Laurent Dubreuil has tested positive for COVID-19 at the world speed skating championships, sinking his chance at claiming the men’s sprint title.

Speed Skating Canada released a statement before the races were scheduled to begin.

In Dubreuil’s¬†absence, Thomas Krol of the Netherlands went on to capture the men’s sprint gold, adding to a season that boasts Olympic gold and silver and European championship.

Dubreuil, a Levis, Que native, sat first in the men’s overall sprint standings, ahead of Krol, following Thursday’s races after winning the first 500-metre sprint and finishing third in the first 1,000¬†race.

In the sprint events, champions are decided after two races over 500 and two over 1,000.

Dubreuil won silver in the men’s 1,000 at last month’s Beijing Olympics, behind Krol, who won gold in the single distance event.¬†

On Friday, Norway’s Havard Holmefjord Loerentzen won the silver medal. Meanwhile, Krol’s teammate Kai Verbij crossed the finish line with the third-fastest time, earning bronze.¬†

While there were no Canadians on the second day of the men’s competition, the women’s side saw Maddison Pearman of Ponoka, Alta, skate to 11th place and Brooklyn McDougall of Calgary in 15th.¬†

Dutch skaters took the top two spots after close races on both days. Olympic silver medallist Jutta Leerdam claimed the women’s world title, with teammate Femke Kok claiming silver. Austria’s Vanessa Hertoz¬†earned¬†the bronze medal.¬†

Leerdam, 23, had skated in the world championship sprints twice before, with a career-high of fifth in 2020. While she was not the favourite for the title, she outskated Kok in the 1000 to force her way to the top of the podium. 

After her win, Leerdam ran into the field in the middle of the ice to celebrate with her Ukrainian coach. 

At the conclusion of the world championship, speed skaters will turn their focus to the final event of the season, the ISU World Cup speed skating final in Heerenveen, the Netherlands on March 11-12.

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