Canada’s long track team earned five top-10 results to open the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Calgary on Friday, including a career best fourth place finish by Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu in the men’s 1500m.
Gélinas-Beaulieu (Sherbrooke, Que.) was the highest ranked skater of the day, narrowly missing the 1500m podium with a fourth-place finish. His time of 1:44.002 put him 0.26 seconds behind bronze medalist Joey Mantia of the United-States. The result marked the highest career finish for Gélinas-Beaulieu in the distance, surpassing the eighth place finish he earned earlier this season in Poland.
Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin (3:59.184) and Isabelle Weidemann (4:02.296) reached the top-10 of the ladies’ 3000m, finishing seventh and eighth, respectively. Blondin was on podium pace for much of the race, but ran out of steam with two laps remaining, loosing enough speed to push her out of medal contention.
A pair of Calgarians also made their mark on Friday afternoon. Sprinter Gilmore Junio’s 500m time of 34.320 earned him a ninth place finish, while Kaylin Irvine skated a personal best of 1:14.411 in the ladies 1000m, which ranked her 13th. Winnipeg’s Tyson Langelaar also cracked the top-10 with an eighth place result in the 1500m.
The lone Canadian to reach the podium on home ice was Connor Howe (Canmore, Alta.), who won B Division silver with a personal best of 1:43.529, a time that would have ranked him second among A Division skaters.
Russia led the way with seven medals on Friday, while five countries – China, Czech Republic, Japan, Netherlands and USA – each earned a single medal. The ISU World Cup Speed Skating concludes Saturday at the Olympic Oval, where winners will be crowned in the ladies 500m and 1500m, along with the men’s 1000m and 5000m.
“My objective for this race were simple – be in a good position, skate smoothly and calmly so that I could have a good last lap, which I was able to do so I’m pretty happy. Of course, finishing in fourth place, so close to the podium, is a bit painful, but I can’t really complain about my position. I’ve been aiming for a top-8 all season, so finishing in the top-5 means things are progressing.”
“This is a little bit of a hiccup for me. I didn’t skate how I wanted to skate today, but it happens. This wasn’t the worse race of all time, but it wasn’t the best either. I was planning on being consistent, but I wasn’t able to do that. I just didn’t have anything left in the tank [in those last two laps].”
– Ivanie Blondin
“Absolutely [it’s nice to come out of a race with a personal best]. I have been really thinking about my track pattern, especially my corner entries, in my races. I think for the 1000m, in that second lap when the legs blow up hard, it’s so important to hit my entries so that I can efficiently have that lean and still hold onto the speed. I also felt really amazing off of my start, which is unusual when there is a false start in the race. In the 500m tomorrow I won’t have to hold back at all and I’m hoping for another personal best.”
– Kaylin Irvine