Canada’s Blondin back on podium in 5,000 metres

Canada's Ivanie Blondin skates during the women's 5000-metre competition at the ISU World Cup speed skating event in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Ivanie Blondin returned to the World Cup podium in speedskating’s longest distance for women, while teammate Isabelle Weidemann vowed to do “detective work” to solve her recent power outage.

The two Canadians skated against each other in the final pairing of a 5,000 metres race Friday in Calgary’s Olympic Oval.

Blondin shifted into a higher gear with four laps of 12 and a half remaining to cross the line in third.

READ MORE: Canadian speedskater Ivanie Blondin embraces beefy race schedule

Weidemann, an Olympic silver medallist in the distance, couldn’t go with her and placed seventh.

Olympic champion Irene Schouten led a four-medal day for the Netherlands to kick off the second of back-to-back speedskating World Cups in Calgary.

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The host Canadian team produced a pair of bronze medals Friday.

Schouten took the 5k by almost five seconds over runner-up Ragne Wiklund of Norway.

Blondin was 6.75 seconds back of the winner for her first medal in the distance since a victory in Kazakhstan in 2019.

“I didn’t think that I would ever step on a 5k podium again in my career because I feel like I’m almost veering more towards mid-distance lately,” Blondin said.

“Going into the race, I thought for sure (Weidemann) would beat me because she’s been so strong in the past I don’t know how many years in the 5k.

“My goal going in was to go with her and try and maintain the same lap times as consistently as possible at the beginning of the race and see where it gets me.”

Click to play video: 'Canadian speed skater leads the pack on the World Cup circuit'
Canadian speed skater leads the pack on the World Cup circuit

The 32-year-old from Ottawa is a rare all-rounder who competes in several distances and contends in many.

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Blondin has collected over 60 World Cup medals in her career across the 5,000, 3,000 and 1,500 metres, mass start and team pursuit.

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She’ll compete in Saturday’s 1,500 metres and team sprint, as well as Sunday’s mass start and 1,000 metres.

“It’s satisfying for me being able to do so many distances and being a little more all-around,” she said.

Blondin, Ottawa’s Weidemann and Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., claimed Olympic team pursuit gold in Beijing in February.

Blondin took silver in the mass start there.

In addition to her 5k silver medal, Weidemann earned bronze in the 3,000 metres and was named Canada’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies.

READ MORE: Decorated Canadian speedskater Isabelle Weidemann resets targets post Beijing Olympics

The Canadian women were victors in the six-lap team pursuit last Saturday, but Weidemann has struggled in her individual races on back-to-back weekends after placing 11th in last week’s 3k.

The 27-year-old was ill last month in Heerenveen, the Netherlands.

Weidemann says she tested negative for COVID-19, but guessed she might still feel the residual effects of her illness.

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“I’ve really struggled the last few weeks,” Weidemann said. “Ever since I got sick in the Netherlands, I just haven’t been able to train as well, or compete as well obviously.

“It happens, you can have a bad race, but to do it two weekends in a row really sucks. We’ll have to do a little bit of searching or some detective work.”

Click to play video: 'The Olympic journey of speedskater Isabelle Weidemann'
The Olympic journey of speedskater Isabelle Weidemann

Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., and Montreal’s Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu and Christopher Fiola combined for bronze in the men’s team sprint.

Poland was first just three hundredths of a second faster than the Dutch.

Three skaters from each country start the three-lap team sprint. A skater drops out after each of the first two laps leaving one striving for the finish line.

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The team sprint isn’t yet an Olympic event.

“We don’t practice it a lot,” said Dubreuil, who will try for a second straight 500-metre win in Calgary on Saturday.

“I think Poland nailed their execution better than we did, but at the same time, it’s also a work in progress.”

The Dutch collected a dozen medals, including five gold, in Calgary’s first World Cup.

They continued their torrid pace to start the second Friday.

Kjeld Nuis won the men’s 1,500 metres ahead of Jordan Stolz of the U.S. in second and Dutch teammate Thomas Krol in third.

South Korea’s Min-Sum Kim took the women’s 500 metres with Japan’s Miho Takagi second. Reigning Olympic champion Erin Jackson of the U.S. was third.

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