CALGARY - Regina's Kali Christ and Vincent de Haitre of Cumberland, Ont., won the 1,500-metre races Thursday, on the opening day of Speed Skating Canada's fall long track World Cup selections.
Christ finished the women's race in one minute 57.09 seconds. Josie Spence of Kamloops, B.C., was second in 1:59.65 while Calgary's Kate Hanly took third in 2:00.54.
On the men's side, de Haitre won in 1:44.75, followed by Winnipeg's Tyler Derraugh in 1:45.48 and Alec Janssens of Chilliwack, B.C., in 1:46.13. All three achieved personal bests.
"I'm pretty happy about it," said de Haitre. "It's nice to know that even though I was cycling all summer, I can come back and skate properly."
De Haitre spent the summer on the cycling track and competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Janssens spent the summer training with both the University of Victoria and National Development Centre rowing teams.
De Haitre admitted that cycling all summer made it hard to make the transition back to skating.
"I definitely learned how to push myself and focus on things I need to work on. Coming back from cycling, although it's the same muscles, you use them in a different way," said the 20 year old. "Your body kind of goes: 'What the heck are you doing to me?' "
Christ was hoping to approach her personal best of 1:55.35, but a recent groin injury put her a week behind in training and forced her to skip a 1,500-metre time trial leading up to the World Cup selections. This was her first 1,500-metre event of the year.
"The week we were supposed to start getting into our speed and endurance training, I had to take a few days off," said Christ, who will turn 24 on November 9. "I was hoping to get into the 1:56s, but 1:57 isn't too far off."
Speed Skating Canada training squad member Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa set a personal best of 2:01.73 while finishing fourth.
Absent from the women's 1,500 metre on Thursday was Brianne Tutt of Airdrie, Alta., due to an ankle injury. She has asked for an injury bye onto the fall team in the 1500 metres, the distance she skated in at the 2014 Olympics.
Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., who won a bronze medal in the 1,500 metre at the 2014 Winter Olympics, did not skate Thursday. He has pre-qualified for the fall World Cups in the 1,500 metre along with the 1,000 metre, in which he took silver in Sochi last February. Morrison is expected to race the 5,000 metre Friday and the 1,000 metre on Sunday.