TOMAKOMAI, JAPAN – Canada captured the silver medal in the ladies’ team pursuit at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating #2 in Tomakomai, Japan on Friday. It was a welcome improvement for Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann, along with Keri Morrison of Burlington, Ont., who finished just off the podium last weekend in Obihiro.
“This is my first World Cup medal and it feels great to achieve it with these girls,” said an excited Morrison. “We came close last year, but this year we finally did it!”
The team skated a time of 3:05.950, enough to put them into first place heading into the final pairing. They would be bumped into silver medal position following that race, as repeat gold medalists Japan edged out the Canadians and the third-place team from Russia.
“We had a really good plan for the team pursuit at the first World Cup and tweaked a few small things this time around,” explained Morrison about the team’s strategy for the race. “We kept almost everything the same, but executed a little bit better. That made all the difference.”
In the men’s team pursuit, Jordan Belchos (Toronto, Ont.), Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, Alta.) and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (Sherbrooke, Que.) skated to a fifth-place result for the second weekend in a row with a time of 3:50.080. The team from the Netherlands stood atop the podium after clocking a race 4.21 seconds faster than the Canadians.
In individual racing, Belchos improved on his results from Obihiro in the semi-finals for the men’s mass start, finishing in 8:56.920 with six sprint points to place sixth and earn a spot in tomorrow’s final. He will be joined by teammates Blondin and Weidemann on the ladies’ side.
All five skaters in Friday’s 500m(1) races will be aiming to make up ground during the 500m(2) tomorrow. In Division A, Calgary’s Kaylin Irvine finished 18th among the ladies with a time of 39.830, while Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, Que. couldn’t replicate his top 10 results from Obihiro, skating to 19th place in 36.260.
Heather McLean of Winnipeg, Man. skated in Division B of the ladies 500m(1), placing 5th with a time of 40.120. Christopher Fiola (Montreal, Que.) and David La Rue (Saint-Lambert, Que.) completed the same distance on the men’s side in 36.720 (11th) and 37.630 (23rd) respectively.
All eleven of Canada’s skaters will participate in individual distances during the second day of competition on Saturday. In addition to the five athletes competing in the 500m(2), Blondin, Morrison and Weidemann will skate in the ladies 1500m, while Gélinas-Beaulieu, Bloemen, Belchos and La Rue are scheduled to race in the men’s 1500m.