Connor Howe and Hayden Mayeur win first career Mass Start medals
CALGARY, ALBERTA – Ivanie Blondin, Connor Howe and Hayden Mayeur all reached the Mass Start podium on the final day of ISU World Cup Speed Skating action in Calgary.
Howe (Canmore , Alta.) and Mayeur (Toronto , Ont.) both captured the first World Cup medals of their careers in the distance, bringing home silver and bronze, respectively.
Korea’s Seung-Hoon Lee, who was in second place at the time, fell in the exit of the final corner, taking out Italy’s Andrea Giovannini in the process. The crash opened the door for the Canadian duo of Howe (7:33.40) and Mayeur (7:33.54), who crossed the line in podium position, closely behind leader Bart Swings of Belgium (7:33.20)
On the women’s side, Canada’s Ivanie Blondin captured her third medal of the weekend, winning silver in the Mass Start. It was sweet redemption for the Ottawa native, who was penalized and disqualified in last weekend’s race for a lane change that caused an obstruction with another competitor.
Blondin and teammate Valerie Maltais took turns pulling the chase pack, which caught up to the lead group of four skaters with two laps remaining. Blondin (8:09.37) picked up her speed before taking off with Irene Schouten (8:08.74) of the Netherlands with 200m to go. The Canadian was unable to track down her Dutch rival, settling for silver. Schouten’s teammate Marijke Groenewoud (8:09.85) joined them on the podium in bronze medal position.
The three medals on Sunday capped off a successful homestand for the Canadian long track team, who won 12 medals over two weekends at the Olympic Oval. They end the first half of the season with a total of 23 World Cup medals (6 gold, 10 silver, 7 bronze).
Laurent Dubreuil (1st in 500m; 2nd in 1000m), Connor Howe (1st in 1500m), Ivanie Blondin (5th in 1500m; 4th in Long Distance; 3rd in Mass Start) and Isabelle Weidemann (4th in Long Distance) are all ranked in the top-5 of at least one of their respective distances. Canada is also in the top-3 of the men’s and women’s Team Pursuit, as well as the women’s Team Sprint.
The international speed skating calendar picks back up in February with back-to-back World Cup stops in Poland, before the season ending World Championships in Heerenveen, the Netherlands, from March 2-5.
“We had to catch those four girls in the front. I think we worked well together. Valerie [Maltais] was pulling, I was pulling and Mia  was pulling. It was a great strategy from the chase pack to catch up with those other girls. And I was happy with the end of the race. [Irene] Schouten got away from me in the final sprint, but there’s only so much I can do with the legs that I’ve got after a big day – and big weekend – of racing.”Ivanie Blondin
“I like how the Mass Start is unpredictable. You have to put yourself in the right spot and get a bit of luck. I tried to move to the front in the last two laps. I was in second for a bit but ended up fourth [before the final sprint]. With the two guys wiping out, things kind of worked out. I tried to enter the last corner in a good position and was going to try passing them on the outside, but I didn’t have to.”Connor Howe
“I’m super happy. I’m ecstatic and full of emotions right now. This is the first individual World Cup medal of my career. It’s my first full season on the circuit, so I’m just over the moon to finish the fall World Cups with an individual medal. One of my strengths as a Mass Start skater is being able to read the race and react. This was the first World Cup this season where Connor [Howe] and I were in the final together. We were trying to work together and find each other in the pack, but aside from that, it was a lot of read and respond.”Hayden Mayeur
- Ivanie Blondin: 6th
- Béatrice Lamarche: 7th (Division B)
- Maddison Pearman: 6th (Division B)
- Alexa Scott: DQ (Division B)
- Connor Howe: 5th
- Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu: 9th
- Laurent Dubreuil: 11th
- Vincent De Haître: 3rd (Division B)
- Tyson Langelaar: 17th (Division B)
Women’s Mass Start
- Ivanie Blondin: 2nd
- Valérie Maltais: 11th
Men’s Mass Start
- Connor Howe: 2nd
- Hayden Mayeur: 3rd