TOMAKOMAI, JAPAN – Ivanie Blondin skated her way to a bronze medal in the ladies’ mass start final at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating #2 in Tomakomai, Japan on Saturday. It was the Ottawa, Ont. native’s second podium finish of the event, after capturing silver in the team pursuit on the opening day of competition.
After placing herself mid-pack at the start of the race, Blondin neared the front heading into the last laps at the Tomakomai Highland Sports Center. A well calculated sprint coming out of the final corner propelled her into third position and earned a resulting 20 sprint points. Blondin’s final time of 8:82.260 was only 0.8 seconds behind that of the gold medalist, Bo-Reum Kim from Korea.
Blondin has now won nearly twenty World Cup medals in the mass start over her career. The two-time Olympian and 2015-16 world champion in the discipline was happy with her results on Saturday.
“It was a really fun race,” Blondin explained after receiving her medal. “Isabelle [Weidemann] and I both had our elbows out and were protecting each other. We’re using this as a team event and trying to help one another throughout the race – I think that was very well executed. I might be the only one standing on the podium today, but it’s also thanks to Isabelle that I earned this medal.”
Weidemann, also of Ottawa, participated in the ladies’ mass start finals alongside Blondin and finished in 14th place with a time of 8:55.900 and one sprint point. On the men’s side, Jordan Belchos of Toronto, Ont. earned one sprint point and clocked in at 8:16.890 en route to a ninth-place finish.
Canada’s remaining skaters each competed in individual distance races on Saturday.
Heather McLean of Winnipeg, Man. earned top spot in Division B of the ladies’ 500m(2) with a time of 39.938 – a result that will vault her into Division A for the next World Cup. Her teammate Kaylin Irvine of Calgary, Alta. completed the same distance in 40.311, fast enough for fifth place.
In Division B of the men’s 500m(2), Montreal’s Christopher Fiola moved up four spots from Friday’s result in the same distance, placing seventh with a time of 36.574. On the Division A side, Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, Que. also improved on his form from yesterday, taking 17th position with a time of 35.984.
In the men’s 1500m, Quebeckers Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (Sherbrooke) and David La Rue (Saint-Lambert) skated to 15th (1:50.444) and 18th (1:51.012) place finishes respectively. Long-distance specialist Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, Alta. posted a time of 1:55.540 (17th) in Division B.
Keri Morrison of Burlington, Ont. was the lone Canadian female in the 1500m on Saturday, finishing in 20th place with a time of 2:06.306. Blondin and Weidemann opted out of this distance in preparation for the mass start.
All eleven of Canada’s athletes will be in action on the final day of competition tomorrow. Blondin, Irvine and McLean will skate in the ladies’ 1000m; Dubreuil, Fiola, Gélinas-Beaulieu and La Rue in the men’s 1000m; Blondin, Morrison and Weidemann in the ladies’ 3000m; and Belchos, Bloemen and Gélinas-Beaulieu in the men’s 5000m.
The team sprint finals will also take place Sunday. Canada will aim to repeat its podium performance after earning a bronze medal in the men’s event last weekend in Obihiro.