Ivanie Blondin returned to the World Cup podium in women’s speedskating’s longest distance, while teammate Isabelle Weidemann vowed to do “detective work” to resolve her recent power outage.
The two Canadians skated against each other in the final pairing of a 5,000-metre race on Friday at 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 place.
READ MORE: Canadian speed skater Ivanie Blondin embraces a solid racing schedule
Weidemann, an Olympic silver medalist in the distance, could not go with her and finished seventh.
Olympic champion Irene Schouten led a four-medal day for the Netherlands to kick off the second of the Rugby Speed Skating World Cups in Calgary.
The host Canadian team produced a pair of bronze medals on Friday.
Schouten took the 5k by nearly five seconds over runner-up Ragne Wiklund of Norway.
Blondin was 6.75 seconds behind the winner for her first medal in the distance since a victory in Kazakhstan in 2019.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get on a 5k podium again in my career because I feel like I’ve been moving almost more toward middle 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 to maintain the same lap times as consistently as possible at the start of the race and see where that takes me.”
Canadian speed skater leads the pack on the World Cup circuit
The 32-year-old from Ottawa is a rare all-rounder who competes at multiple distances and competes in many.
Blondin collected more than 60 World Cup medals in her career across the 5,000, 3,000 and 1,500 meters, mass start and team pursuit.
She will compete in Saturday’s 1,500 meters and team sprint, as well as Sunday’s mass jump and 1,000 meters.
“It’s satisfying for me to be able to do so many distances and be 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 meters and was named Canada’s flag bearer for the closing ceremonies.
READ MORE: Decorated Canadian speed skater Isabelle Weidemann sets targets back to Beijing Olympics
The Canadian women were victorious in the six-lap team pursuit last Saturday, but Weidemann struggled in her individual races on back-to-back weekends after finishing 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 could still feel the residual effects of her illness.
“I’ve really struggled the last few weeks,” Weidemann said. “Since I got sick in the Netherlands, I just haven’t been able to train as well, or of course compete as well.
“It happens, you can have a bad race, but to do it two weekends in a row really sucks. We’ll have to do some searching or detective work.”
The Olympic journey of the speed skater 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.
At first, Poland was only 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.
The team sprint is not yet an Olympic event.
“We don’t practice it a lot,” said Dubreuil, who will try for a second straight 500m win in Calgary on Saturday.
“I think Poland nailed their execution better than us, but at the same time it’s also a work in progress.”
The Dutch collected a dozen medals, including five golds, in Calgary’s first World Cup tournament.
They continued their torrid pace to start the second Friday.
Kjeld Nuis won the men’s 1,500 meters ahead of Jordan Stolz of the USA in second and Dutch teammate Thomas Krol in third.
South Korea’s Min-Sum Kim took the women’s 500 meters with Japan’s Miho Takagi second. The current Olympic champion, Erin Jackson of the USA, was third.
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