Valérie Maltais and Connor Howe earn career-best fifth place finishes in respective Mass Start
HEERENVEEN, NETHERLANDS – Ivanie Blondin won Canada’s lone medal on the opening day of the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen, brining home bronze in the women’s Mass Start to earn her third medal of the season.
Dutch skater Irene Schouten – who Blondin outstretched at the finish line of last weekend’s Mass Start final in Stavanger to capture gold – took the lead at the midway point of the 16-lap race and never looked back. The reigning Olympic champion broke away from the field and gained nearly a half-lap on the rest of the skaters, before crossing the line comfortably in first place, 18-seconds ahead of her closest competitor (8:30.34).
The battle for the other two podium positions was between Blondin (8:48.57) and Marijke Groenewoud (8:48.55) of the Netherlands, with the Dutch skater narrowly edging out the Canadian to bring home silver. Blondin (Ottawa, Ont.) settled for bronze, her second medal in the distance in as many tries.
Meanwhile, Blondin’s Teammate Valérie Maltais (8:49.26) finished just off the podium in fifth place, a career-best result for the 32-year old four-time Olympian.
On the men’s side, Canmore’s Connor Howe also earned a fifth-place result in the first Mass Start final of his young career, crossing the finish line with a time of 7:39.67. Howe also had Canada’s top result in the men’s 1000m, a ninth-place finish thanks to a time of 1:08.64.
Last weekend’s 1000m silver medalist, Laurent Dubreuil, was dealt a tough blow on Friday when his pair mate Jordan Stolz of the U.S. lost his balance and fell in the exit of a corner, sliding into Dubreuil’s lane. The 30-year old was forced to slow down to avoid a collision, a decision that earned him a disappointing 10th place finish.
The ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Heerenveen continues tomorrow with the men’s 500m and 5000m, along with the women’s 1500m and Team Sprint. Races will be live streamed on CBC Sport and Radio-Canada Sport.
It was a stacked day – skating the Mass Start semis, the 1000m and then the Mass Start finals – but at the end of the day, a podium is a podium and I’m pretty happy with that. The Dutch girls had a great gameplan going into the race; continuing to attack until one of them got away. It was a great tactic on their part, that’s for sure! For me, it was a bit more challenging to try and win it today as I was racing alone, so to speak. I still tried for the final sprint and it was really close between Marijke [Groenewoud] and I, but she just edged me out in the last meters.”Ivanie Blondin
I am happy with my performance today in the Mass Start, it gives me some confidence moving forward! When I didn’t make the final last weekend, I learned some things about being aggressive and positioning myself. Today, it was a lot of fun being right in the action during the final sprint!Connor Howe
- Women’s 1000m
- Ivanie Blondin – 10th
- Alexa Scott – 18th
- Brooklyn McDougall – 5th (B Division)
- Béatrice Lamarche – 7th (B Division)
- Men’s 1000m
- Connor Howe – 9th
- Laurent Dubreuil – 10th
- Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu – 15th
- Tyson Langelaar – 10th (B Divison)
- Christopher Fiola – 18th (B Division)
- Women’s Mass Start
- Ivanie Blondin – 3rd
- Valérie Maltais – 5th
- Men’s Mass Start
- Connor Howe – 5th