Canada’s Blondin back on podium in 5,000 metres
Ivanie Blondin returned to the World Cup podium in the longest distance in women’s speed skating, while teammate Isabelle Weidemann vowed “sleuthing” to solve her recent blackout.
The two Canadians went head-to-head in the final pairing of a 5,000 meter race at Calgary’s Olympic Oval on Friday.
Blondin shifted into higher gear with four laps of 12.5 remaining to cross the finish line in third.
READ MORE: Canadian speed skater Ivanie Blondin welcomes a beefy racing schedule
Weidemann, distant Olympic silver medalist, was unable to follow her and finished seventh.
Olympic gold medalist Irene Schouten led a four-medal day for the Netherlands to open the second consecutive Speed Skating World Cup in Calgary.
The hosting Canadian team produced two bronze medals on Friday.
Schouten won the 5K by almost five seconds over second-placed Ragne Wiklund of Norway.
Blondin was 6.75 seconds off the winner for her first medal over the distance since winning in Kazakhstan in 2019.
“I didn’t think I would ever get on a 5K podium again in my career because I feel like I’ve been leaning towards middle distance a lot lately,” said Blondin.
“Going into the race I thought that (Weidemann) would definitely beat me because she’s been so strong in the past, I don’t know how many years in the 5K.
“My goal was to go with her and try early in the race to keep the same lap times as consistent as possible and see where it takes me.”
The Canadian speed skater leads the pack in the World Cup
The 32-year-old from Ottawa is a rare all-rounder who competes at multiple distances and competes at many.
Blondin has accumulated over 60 World Cup medals in the 5,000, 3,000 and 1,500 meters, mass start and team pursuit in her career.
She will compete in the 1,500m and team sprint on Saturday and the mass start and 1,000m on Sunday.
“It’s satisfying for me to be able to cover so many distances and be a bit more versatile,” she said.
Blondin, Ottawas Weidemann and Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., took gold in the Olympic team pursuit in Beijing in February.
There Blondin took silver in the mass start.
In addition to her 5K silver medal, Weidemann took bronze in the 3,000 meters and was named Canada’s flag bearer for the closing ceremony.
READ MORE: Decorated Canadian speed skater Isabelle Weidemann resets goals after Beijing Olympics
The Canadian women won the six-round team pursuit last Saturday, but Weidemann has struggled in her individual races on back-to-back weekends after finishing 11th in the 3K last week.
The 27-year-old was ill in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, last month.
Weidemann says she tested negative for COVID-19 but suspected she may still be feeling the after-effects of her illness.
“I’ve had a really hard time in the past few weeks,” said Weidemann. “Since I got sick in the Netherlands, I just haven’t been able to train as well or compete as well of course.
“It happens that you can have a bad race, but to do it two weekends in a row really sucks. We’ll have to search a bit or do some detective work.”
The Olympic journey of speed skater Isabelle Weidemann
Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., and Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu and Christopher Fiola of Montreal shared bronze in the men’s team sprint.
Poland was initially only three hundredths faster than the Dutch.
Three skaters from each country start the three-lap team sprint. A skater is eliminated after each of the first two rounds, allowing you to the finish line.
The team sprint is not yet an Olympic race.
“We don’t practice much,” said Dubreuil, who will be looking to claim a second straight 500-meter win in Calgary on Saturday.
“I think Poland managed the execution better than us, but at the same time it’s still a work in progress.”
The Dutch collected a dozen medals, including five gold medals, at the first World Championships in Calgary.
They continued their blistering pace to start the second Friday.
Kjeld Nuis won the men’s 1,500 meters ahead of Jordan Stolz of the USA in second and Dutch teammate Thomas Krol in third place.
South Korea’s Min-Sum Kim won the women’s 500m, with Japan’s Miho Takagi second. Third place went to reigning Olympic champion Erin Jackson from the USA.
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