BEIJING, CHINA – Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais, and Isabelle Weidemann have won gold in the women’s team pursuit at Beijing 2022 for Canada’s first Olympic medal in the event in 16 years. They did it by posting an Olympic record time of 2:53.44 in the final against Japan.
The Canadians had trailed the Japanese for the entire race, but were closing the gap as they lowered their lap times in their last few trips around the oval. With half a lap to go, the deficit was just 0.32 of a second. But then Nana Takagi lost her footing on the final turn and fell, making the victory a no-doubter for Blondin, Maltais and Weidemann. The Canadians bettered their time from the semifinal by 1.52 seconds.
They had started their push for the podium three days earlier when they posted the second-fastest time in the quarterfinals. Their time of 2:53.97 was just 0.36 behind that of Japan, who set the Olympic record. That put the Canadians into a semifinal showdown with the Netherlands. Whoever won the head-to-head race would get the chance to race for gold.
The Canadian trio started out a little slower than the Dutch in the semifinal, but it wasn’t long before the lap times quickened and by the midway mark of the six-lap race, it was the Canadians who were ahead. They ended up winning by almost a second to book their spot in the gold medal race against Japan, who had defeated the ROC by almost seven seconds in the other semifinal.
For Weidemann, this is her third medal of Beijing 2022, adding to the silver she won in the 5000m and her bronze in the 3000m. She is Canada’s first triple medallist of the Games and is just the second Canadian ever to collect a set of gold, silver and bronze medals at one edition of the Winter Games. Cindy Klassen did it as part of her haul of five medals at Turin 2006.
Blondin has her first career Olympic medal in her third Olympic appearance. She chose to withdraw from the 5000m to ensure she was well-rested for the team pursuit.
Maltais is now an Olympic medallist in both forms of speed skating. She previously won silver in the 3000m relay in short track at Sochi 2014. She is just the third athlete in the world to be an Olympic medallist in short track and long track, following American Eric Flaim and Dutchwoman Jorien ter Mors.
This Canadian trio won bronze at the 2020 World Single Distances Championships, followed by silver in 2021. They went undefeated in the three World Cup races held in the leadup to Beijing 2022.
The team pursuit was added to the Olympic program at Turin 2006, which is where Canada won silver for its only Olympic medal in the women’s event.
“It feels really surreal right now. There is such high emotion. Going into the race we wanted to make ourselves proud. We didn’t want to put pressure on ourselves, it is a privilege to be in this final. Coming across the line, I just couldn’t believe it. We always have respect for the Japanese team. It was a perfect scenario. We thought, let’s take this opportunity to show up and once again, make ourselves proud. We felt really confident after the semifinal. We (knew) we can skate better, powerful and grind until the end.”Valérie Maltais
“What we did really well today is that we just focused on the present. We did the semifinals first, we didn’t even think about the final. We were just very present, focused on the tasks that we had to do to. In the final we had a great race. It was just a great performance, great execution. I can’t be more proud of this team.”Ivanie Blondin
“We’re just so grateful to be representing Canada and to be here, skating at the Olympics for them. Family, friends, staff, we’re just so proud.”Isabelle Weidemann