Canada wins silver in women’s pursuit at Obihiro World Cup
Valérie Maltais, Isabelle Weidemann and Ivanie Blondin began the defense of their title by winning the silver medal in the women’s team pursuit event at the ISU Long Track Speed Skating World Cup in Obihiro, Japan.
In the first World Cup event of the 2023-24 season, the Canadian trio finished 1.22 seconds behind Japan who won the title on home soil. Netherlands took third place.
Despite the podium placement, this result ended an eight-match World Cup winning streak for the Beijing 2022 the gold medalists, who began this streak all the way back in March 2020.
“It went really well,” Maltais said after the race. “We finished second, but that’s really positive! We just have to find where we need to put our intensity and adjust our start. Clearly, I could have given more because after the race, I was still in good shape, so we can go even further. We are capable of gaining the gap to first place without any problem.”
Blondin opens World Cup season with mass start gold
Ivanie Blondin got the ISU Long Track Speed Skating World Cup season off to a strong start by winning the women’s mass start event in Obihiro, Japan on Friday.
Blondin, who finished first overall in the World Cup standings in this event last season, took the gold, beating silver medallist Esther Kiel of the Netherlands by 0.34 seconds. American Mia Kilburg-Manganello took third place, 0.47 seconds ahead of Canadian Valérie Maltais, who finished just off the podium in fourth place.
Blondin established herself in the pack at the start of the race, playing with strategy for the first 15 laps. At the sound of the bell announcing the 16th and final lap, she set off to pull away from the pack in the company of the other two eventual medallists and Maltais. First out of the last bend, Blondin was alone on the final straight and sped towards the finish line.
Last season, en route to the season-ending title, Blondin was on the podium at five of the six World Cups, collecting one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
On the men’s side, Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu finished fourth in the men’s mass start with a time of 7:46.22.
The World Cup in Obihiro continues until Sunday. Blondin and Maltais will team up with Isabelle Weidemann in the women’s team pursuit on Saturday, when the trio will begin the defence of their World Cup title.
The Canadian speed skaters have begun a tour of four World Cups that will take them to Beijing, China on November 17-19, Stavanger, Norway on December 1-3, and Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland on December 8-10.