Isabelle Weidemann, Ivanie Blondin and Valérie Maltais skated to a new Canadian record in the women’s Team Pursuit on Saturday, helping them claim their third consecutive gold and finish the season atop the World Cup rankings.
The Canadians time of 2:52.067 eclipsed their previous national mark of 2:52.412, which was set at last weekend’s World Cup in Salt Lake City. The hometown crowd roared as they crossed the finish line with the fastest time of the day, which helped them defeating their rivals from Japan (2:52.892), as well as the third-place Chinese (2:58.428).
After a third overall finish to start the Olympic quadrennial in 2018-2019, Canada’s team of Weidemann, Blondin and Maltais have earned three straight World Cup titles in the women’s team pursuit and should be a medal favourite at Beijing 2022.
It was a memorable afternoon for Canmore’s Connor Howe, who reached the World Cup podium for the first time in an individual distance on Saturday, skating to a silver medal in the men’s 1500m.
The 21-year old posted a personal-best time of 1:42.425 on home ice, putting him behind American Joey Mantia (1:41.860) and ahead of bronze medalist Allan Dahl Johansson of Norway (1:43.275). The podium performance propelled him to third overall in the World Cup rankings, pre-qualifying him for Beijing 2022 in that distance.
Canada also earned a pair of top-10 results in the men’s Mass Start, with Jordan Belchos (7:47.580) finishing eighth and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (7:46.740) ninth.
- “We’re really excited! It was a clean race today. We wanted to go out and skate really smooth and make sure that we stayed together, and we accomplished that mission. I think we were a little less nervous than last weekend and really fueled by the crowd here in Calgary. Everybody’s family was here to watch us, which made this even more exciting.” – Isabelle Weidemann
- “The Olympic qualification is always in the back of our heads, but we try to just skate each race the best we can, and I think it worked out. I think my consistency has improved a lot this season, so even if I’m not always feeling 100%, I can usually skate close to my potential. This weekend, I executed a bit better than in Salt Lake City – and some of the top guys weren’t there – so that may have raised me a few places in the standings. I knew I was on pace for a good time after I saw the lap board from my coach, but Joey [Mantia] finished really strong, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t catch him.” – Connor Howe