Canadian long track speed skaters earned three medals on the second day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen, the Netherlands. Defending world champion Ivanie Blondin brought home silver in the women’s Mass Start, while sprinters Laurent Dubreuil and Heather McLean earned silver and bronze in their respective 500m races.
Canada has now earned an impressive – and somewhat surprising – five medals at this first World Cup of the season, their first international competition since March 2020.
Blondin (Ottawa, Ont.) and teammate Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, Que.) broke away from the aggressive Mass Start pack with four laps remaining, using an outside track to move into the top two spots. Blondin held on for a second-place finish (8:34.460, 40 sprint points), behind Dutch rival Irene Schouten (8:34.020, 64 sprint points), however Maltais ran out of steam and finished the race in 10th place (8:39.650).
“I’m pretty happy with a silver in just our second week back on the ice! It was a pretty messy race – the girls were aggressive and there was a lot of pushing – but I ended up putting myself in a good position and I’m happy with the result.” – Ivanie Blondin
Jordan Belchos (Toronto, Ont.) finished just shy of the podium in the men’s Mass Start, posting a time of 7:19.720, along with 12 sprint points, for a fourth-place result.
A pair of Canuck sprinters also reached the podium on Saturday, adding a silver and bronze medal to Canada’s tally.
“It went really well. I feel like I made several mistakes in my execution, but I can’t really complain about having a silver medal after 10 months without being able to compete. I hadn’t skated for two full months before coming here, not even outside, so this is absolutely a moral victory. It’s super encouraging for what’s to come. My goal was to get on the podium on this trip and that’s already done. To be able to start my season like this makes me believe that if I have a good execution in every race I can get on the podium. ” – Laurent Dubreuil
Dubreuil (Lévis, Que.) skated an impressive 34.650 to finish second in the men’s 500m, behind Dai Dai Ntab of the Netherlands (34.550). It marks an exciting start to the season for the 28-year old, who broke through last year with four World Cup medals and a third-place overall ranking in both the 500m and 1000m.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg’s McLean raced to a bronze medal in the women’s 500m, clocking in with a time of 37.368. Femke Kok of the Netherlands won gold (37.089), while Angelina Golikova of Russia brough home silver (37.304). It was a long-awaited return to the World Cup podium for the 2018 Olympian, who won her three previous individual medals during the 2015-2016 season.
“I felt really good before my race. I had a solid pre-race warm-up, so I knew going into the race that if I executed what I did in warm-up I could have a strong result. I think winning this medal is a good demonstration of my mental strength. Our circumstances have been less than ideal, but I was motivated all summer and I wasn’t going to let those setbacks define the rest of my season. I feel really proud of myself and I think mental strength played a huge part in today’s performance.” – Heather McLean
- Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, Ont.): 2nd Mass Start
- Kaylin Irvine (Calgary, Alta.): 17th in 500m
- Béatrice Lamarche (Quebec City, Que.): 22nd in 500m, 4th in 1500m (Div B)
- Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, Que.): 1st in 1500m (Div B), 11th Mass Start
- Abigail McCluskey (Penticton, B.C.): 27th in 500m, 6th in 1500m (Div B)
- Heather McLean (Winnipeg, Man.): 3rd in 500m
- Isabelle Weidemann (Ottawa, Ont.): 18th in 1500m
- Jordan Belchos (Toronto, Ont.): 4th Mass Start
- Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, Alta.): 18th in 1500m
- Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (Sherbrooke, Que.): 16th in 500m
- Laurent Dubreuil (Lévis, Que.): 2nd in 500m
- Connor Howe (Canmore, Alta.): 15th in 1500m
- Gilmore Junio (Calgary, Alta.): 14th in 500m