Team Pursuit Gold & Bronze for Canada to Open World Cup Season in Heerenveen
Canada earns a pair of medals on Friday in their first international competition since March 2020
Credit: International Skating Union
HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS – Despite not having competed domestically or internationally for over 10 months, it seems that Canada’s long track skaters did not miss a stride. They earned a pair of medals in the Team Pursuit – gold by the women and bronze by the men – on the opening day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.
It marked a successful start to the condensed international long track season for the Canadian team, who are competing against the world’s top skaters in a series of events (two World Cup, one World Championship) in a “bubble” environment over the next four weeks.
The women’s team of Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, Ont.), Isabelle Weidemann (Ottawa, Ont.) and Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, Que.) won gold with a time of 2:56.718, ahead of the Netherlands (2:57.040) and Norway (2:59.247). The trio finished last season atop the World Cup rankings after winning three medals (one gold, one silver and one bronze) on the circuit. They also earned bronze at the World Single Distance Championships.
On the men’s side, Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, Alta.), Jordan Belchos (Toronto, Ont.) and Connor Howe (Canmore, Alta.) completed the distance in 3:41.711 to claim bronze, behind Norway (3:41.628) and the Netherlands (3:40.332). The Canadian men earned World Cup silver and bronze last season and finished just off the World Championship podium in fourth place.
The men’s third-place performance led to Howe’s first career World Cup medal. The 20-year old middle distance specialist, who debuted on the World Cup circuit last season, was skating in the spot occupied by Tyson Langelaar (Winnipeg, Man.) during the 2019-2020 campaign.
Action concluded on Friday with the Mass Start semifinals, which saw Canadians Belchos, Maltais and defending world champion Blondin all advanced. The ISU World Cup continues tomorrow, where the 500m(1), 1500m and Mass Start finals are on the schedule.
CBC Sports will have live streaming coverage of Saturday’s races beginning at 8:15am ET, as well as televised coverage as part of their ‘Road to the Olympic Games’ program at 12:00pm ET. Visit the schedule for broadcast and streaming times in your area.
“I think we surprised everyone, including ourselves! I wasn’t sure what to expect; I think the three of us were pretty nervous going into it, but it went really well. There’s a lot less pressure racing as a team because we have each other there as support, which is comforting. This medal is a great start, and we’ll see how the rest of the races go.” – Ivanie Blondin
“Third in the Team Pursuit is a great way to start off racing here in the Hub. Jordan and Ted-Jan are top long-distance skaters and have lots of experience, so they make ideal pursuit teammates. We skated well together and I’m happy that I was able to build speed during my lead in the middle of the race. Getting on the podium was special for me as it was my first time racing this event at a World Cup and also my first medal! The Canadian team also has a relaxed and positive attitude in the Hub so that takes away some of the extra pressure that comes with our return to racing.” – Connor Howe
Speed Skating Canada