Connor Howe skates in the mens 1000m division A race during the ISU World Cup Speed Skating #4 at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, AB on December 18, 2022. (Photo: Dave Holland/Speed Skating Canada)

Canada’s long track speed skating team kicked off the first of two consecutive ISU World Cup Speed Skating events in Poland with a pair of fourth place results, courtesy of Connor Howe and the men’s Team Pursuit.

Howe was Canada’s top-ranked skater in an individual distance on Friday, finishing just off the podium in fourth place of the men’s 1500m with a time of 1:47.81 (+1.10). Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands was victorious in 1:46.71, ahead of Norway’s Peder Kongshaug (+0.70) and fellow countryman Patrick Roest (+0.91).

Despite not medalling this time around, Howe remains atop the World Cup standings in the distance with 227 points thanks to a gold and silver medal from earlier in the season. The 22-year-old is five points clear of his closest challenger, Nuis (222), with one event to go.

The Canmore native followed up his 1500m by teaming up with Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu and Hayden Mayeur later in the afternoon for the men’s Team Pursuit. The Canadians were in medal contention after the first half of the 8-lap race but were unable to maintain their rhythm and finished fourth, 3.21 seconds off the pace set by their pair mates, and eventual gold medalist, Norway (3:42.70). The United States (+0.05) finished a close second, while the Netherlands (+1.26) was third.

Canada ends the World Cup campaign ranked third overall in the men’s Team Pursuit (137 points) – behind the Netherlands (140) and Norway (156) – after compiling a second, fourth and fifth place finish.

On the women’s side, the long-distance trio of Isabelle Weidemann, Valérie Maltais and Ivanie Blondin all cracked the top-8 of the 3000m. Weidemann (4:08.91) was the top finisher in fifth place, while teammates Maltais (4:11.25) and Blondin (4:13.16) came seventh and eighth, respecetively.

Norway’s Ragne Wiklund won gold (4:05.96), narrowly ahead of Martina Sáblíková of Czechia (+0.08), while Marijke Groenewoud of the Netherlands (+1.22) was third.

The ISU World Cup Speed Skating from Tomaszów Mazowiecki continues Saturday with the men’s 500m and 5000m, as well as the women’s 1500m and Team Pursuit.