A bronze medal performance from Ted-Jan Bloemen in the men’s 5000m capped off an impressive first day of competition for Canada’s long track team at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Hamar, Norway.
It was the first medal of the season for Bloemen, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist and reigning world record holder in the 5000m. The veteran skater looks to be rounding into form after a slow start to the season. His time of 6:20.446 helped him reach the international podium for the first time since PyeongChang.
“It seems that I’m back,” Bloemen said with a laugh following his race. “I’m really happy to be back on the podium.”
The Calgary, Alta. based skater was joined on the podium by Sverre Lunde Pedersen (6:16.168) of Norway, who was competing on home ice in front of thousands of cheering fans, and Alexander Rumyantsev (6:19.249) of Russia.
“I’ve worked really hard and put in a lot of training since the last World Cup and this was a bit of a test race to see what the results of that training were,” added Bloemen. “It’s a big step in the right direction.”
“The ice was a little bit slow here, which made it difficult for me. It will be faster next week at the World Championships in Inzell (Germany), so I’m excited to see what I can do there.”
Teammate Jordan Belchos of Toronto, Ont. also earned his best result of the season in the 5000m, coming in sixth with a time of 6:21.669.
Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, Ont. was the top Canadian in the ladies 3000m on Friday, earning a sixth-place result with a time of 4:06.478. She continues to put forth consistent performances in the distance, having already earned three top 10 finishes in the first half of the season.
“I think today was actually really positive,” said Blondin. “I was able to fight through this race and show what I was capable of.”
“A sixth-place finish a week before the World Championships is good,” she added. “I have some things to work on, but I’m not too far off. Given we still have one week to prepare, I think I’m headed in the right direction.”
Isabelle Weidemann, also of Ottawa, Ont., finished the 3000m in seventh position (4:08.412). Despite not reaching the podium, she remains the top ranked Canadian long-distance skater in the overall World Cup standings. She is currently sitting in third-place with 236 points, thanks in large part to the three medals she has captured in the 3000m and 5000m so far this season.
A pair of Canadians reached the Division B podium on Friday as well.
Graeme Fish of Moose Jaw, Sask. set a new personal best of 6:23.387 to win Division B of the men’s 5000m, a time that was four seconds faster than his closest competitor. It was his second Division B podium of the season, having previously come in third-place in the 10,000m in Poland.
“I was pretty relaxed before the race,” admitted Fish, who will represent Canada in the 5000m and 10,000m at the upcoming World Single Distance Championships. “I wasn’t too antsy to go to fast. I knew I had to keep relaxed at the beginning so I could have enough to finish at the end.”
“At the end of the race I sort of started rushing a little bit, but [coach] Bart (Schouten) reminded me to keep with what I was doing, and I was able to bring my times back down. Technically the race was good, but I have a few minor details to fix up before next week.”
Valérie Maltais of Saguenay, Que. continued the impressive start to her long track career, earning a second-place finish in Division B of the ladies 3000m. Her time of 4:10.427 was just outside of the top 10 times posted in that distance on the day. It was a promising result as she prepares to compete for the first time in both the World Single Distance and World Allround Championships in the coming weeks.
The competition continues Saturday with the 500m(1) and 1000m races. A total of 10 Canadians will be in action, including Kali Christ, Marsha Hudey, Kaylin Irvine, Heather McLean, Laurent Dubreuil, Christopher Fiola, Connor Howe, Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu, Gilmore Junio and Tyson Langelaar.
- BLONDIN, Ivanie (Ottawa, ON) – 1500m, 3000m
- CHRIST, Kali (Regina, SK) – 1000m, 1500m
- HUDEY, Marsha (White City, SK) – 500m(1), 500m(2)
- IRVINE, Kaylin (Calgary, AB) – 500m(1), 500m(2), 1000m
- MALTAIS, Valérie (Saguenay, QC) – 1500m, 3000m
- MCLEAN, Heather (Winnipeg, MB) – 500m(1), 500m(2), 1000m
- WEIDEMANN, Isabelle (Ottawa, ON) – 1500m, 3000m
- BELCHOS, Jordan (Toronto, ON) – 1500m, 5000m
- BLOEMEN, Ted-Jan (Calgary, AB) – 1500m, 5000m
- DUBREUIL, Laurent (Lévis, QC) – 500m(1), 500m(2), 1000m
- FIOLA, Christopher (Montreal, QC) – 500m(1), 500m(2), 1000m
- FISH, Graeme (Moose Jaw, SK) – 5000m
- HOWE, Connor (Canmore, AB) – 500m(1), 500m(2)
- GÉLINAS-BEAULIEU, Antoine (Sherbrooke, QC) – 1000m, 1500m
- JUNIO, Gilmore (Calgary, AB) – 500m(1), 500m(2)
- LANGELAAR, Tyson (Winnipeg, MB) – 500m(1), 500m(2), 1000m, 1500m