Canada earned a pair of silver medals on the second day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen. Ivanie Blondin raced to a second-place finish in the women’s Mass Start, while Laurent Dubreuil sprinted his way to his second silver medal of the season in the men’s 500m.
Blondin wrestled for position throughout an exciting Mass Start final, one that saw teammate Valérie Maltais and Italian skater Francesca Lollobrigida get disqualified for excessive contact. The Ottawa native moved into second place with four laps remaining but stumbled in the final straight, allowing rival Irene Schouten of the Netherlands to make up ground and outstretch her at the finish line for gold.
For the second weekend in a row, Schouten (8:21.750, 60 sprint points) and Blondin (8:21.770, 41 sprint points) finished first and second in the distance. Joining them on the podium was Russia’s Elizaveta Golubeva (8:22.030, 10 sprint points), who was promoted to bronze medal position following the disqualification of Lollobrigida.
Joining Blondin on the World Cup podium on Saturday was Canadian sprinter Laurent Dubreuil, who won his second 500m silver medal in as many weekends.
The native of Lévis, Que., put forth his best time of the season (34.520), which was just 0.04 seconds behind world record holder Pavel Kulizhnikov, who claimed gold. Dutch skater Dai Dai N’tab and Russian Artem Arefyev both earned bronze medals after finishing with identical times (34.588).
Meanwhile, Heather McLean came up just short of the podium in the women’s 500m, skating to a fifth-place finish in a time of 37.690. Dutch skater Femke Kok (37.233) won her third consecutive gold medal in the distance, while Angelina Golikova of Russia (+0.05) and Vanessa Herzog of Austria (+0.17) rounded out the podium.
In the men’s 1500m, Canmore’s Connor Howe earned a career-best seventh-place result in the distance. The 20-year old, who is competing in just the fourth World Cup of his young career, posted a time of 1:45.486, which helped him easily surpass his 15th place finish from last weekend.
Saturday’s medal haul brings Canada’s World Cup total to nine so far this season, which includes two individual distance medals each for Blondin and Dubreuil, as well as four combined in the Team Pursuit.
“It was a spicy one today! The girls were feisty out there, which makes it a fun race for me because I get pumped when that happens. I had a good race, but near the finish I stumbled a little bit. I think if that would not have happed, I could have beat [Irene] Schouten at the line because I had much more speed, but those things happen. I’m still getting use to skating at speed again – it’s taken me a little longer to get the feel of going fast back – but I’m happy with the silver and being on the podium again is more that I thought I could do.” – Ivanie Blondin
“I’m really happy with my day today. It was a great race, but again it wasn’t a perfect race. I made a few small mistakes, but I cannot be mad about finishing second with a 34.52. It’s super good and it’s encouraging for my next races.” – Laurent Dubreuil