Laurent Dubreuil, the reigning speed skating World Cup champion over 500 metres, was in winning form on Saturday.
The 30-year-old from Lévis, Que., took the men’s race in 34.34 seconds in Heerenveen, Netherlands after picking up a silver medal at last week’s season opener in Stavanger, Norway.
After a false start, Dubreuil got off the line quickly in the final pair to set an opener of 9.6 seconds at the Thialf arena.
Dubreuil, who prevailed in 10 of 12 races last season, fell 27-100ths of a second shy of the track record on Saturday, set by Tatsuya Shinhama on March 8, 2020.
The 33.61 world mark by Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia has stood since March 9, 2019.
“It was a really good race. I am happy with my first victory of the year and the way that I skated,” Dubreuil told Speed Skating Canada. “The time to beat before I raced was quite difficult to chase, but I was able to stay focused on my goal of skating to win. I knew that it would take a very good race
“I had a much better start than last week and then an excellent lap. The final corner was the best of my life in the 500. I am proud to have rebounded after the disappointment [of finishing 10th in Friday’s] 1,000.”
Wataru Morishige of Japan was 11-100ths back of Dubreuil on Saturday in 34.45 while Merijn Scheperkamp of the Netherlands concluded third (34.69).
Montreal’s Christopher Fiola (34.91) and Cédrick Brunet (35.42) of Gatineau, Que., placed eighth and 19th.
Last Sunday, Dubreuil earned his second silver medal of the weekend in Norway, recording the fastest lap of the field and racing to a time of 1:09.22 in the 1,000 for his first World Cup medal in the distance since January 2021 when he collected bronze in Heerenveen.
Dubreuil stopped the clock in 34.75 to win silver in the 500 last Saturday in Stavanger, the first of six World Cup events scheduled for the season.