Ivanie Blondin enjoys a heavy workload.
The 32-year-old speed skater from Ottawa will compete in six races in three days towards the end of the World Cup on Sunday in Calgary.
Blondin was a third on Canada’s women’s sprint team that won Olympic gold in February. She claimed individual silver in the women’s mass start and also raced the 3,000 and 1,500 in Beijing.
In a sport where skaters often specialize in sprints, middle distance or endurance, a versatile player is rare.
“It keeps me motivated,” Blondin said. “I think I’ve proven I can do it.”
Blondin took fourth place in the women’s 3,000 meters on Friday at the Olympic Oval.
She will compete in the 1,500 before joining Ottawa’s Isabelle Weidemann and Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., in team pursuit on Saturday.
READ MORE: Canadian speed skaters earn men’s team pursuit silver in Calgary World Cup
“One of my goals this year is to get on the podium for the 1,500,” Blondin said. “I know my speed is very high at the moment and that’s why I think I need this weekend to take advantage of it and try to execute.
“I hope I can pull something out that will be fast enough for the podium.”
Canadian speed skater leads the pack on the World Cup circuit
Blondin races her signature mass start on Sunday, which consists of both a semi-final and final, as well as the 1,000 meters.
Proper warm-up and nutrition, plus morning and evening walks with her dog Brooke, is how she manages a packed race schedule physically and mentally.
“I feel like I have a little less pressure on my shoulders now that I came home with two medals at the Games,” said Blondin. “I may be nearing the end of my career. I do not know. I’m taking it year by year at this point.
“I still perform decently well and just enjoy it.”
READ MORE: Canada’s Ivanie Blondin wins 2 gold medals at Speed Skating World Cup
The Canadian men’s sprint team finished second on Friday to earn the host nation’s only medal. Calgary’s oval hosts upcoming World Cups with three more days of racing next week.
Connor Howe of Canmore, Alta., Montreal’s Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu and Toronto’s Hayden Mayeur finished second Friday, just over half a second behind the United States. Norway was third.
The Canadian trio collected the first medal of the season in the event. Howe and long-distance specialists Jordan Belchos and Ted-Jan Bloemen were fifth in Beijing.
“It gives us a lot of encouragement,” Howe said. “This year we’re trying some new things, a new team with middle distance guys to get up to speed more easily. If you can’t start fast enough, you can’t make up the time.
“It seems to be working. If we think it’s good, we’ll work on it for the next Olympics and be better contenders.”
Howe leads the World Cup season standings in the men’s 1,500 meters. After winning and finishing second in his first two races of the season, he was sixth on Friday.
The 22-year-old said he lost speed late in the race and also hung up with Norway’s Peder Kongshaug who switched lanes in the final lap.
“It was a good race,” Howe said. “It wasn’t far. I can’t be too sad. I think I can turn it around for next week.”
Wesly Dijs of the Netherlands took the men’s 1,500 meters ahead of runner-up Zhongyan Ning of China and compatriot Kjeld Nuis in third place.
Ragne Wiklund from Norway was first in the 3k with the Dutch Marijke Groenewoud and Antoinette Rijpma – de Jong second and third respectively ahead of Blondin.
Reigning Olympic gold medalist Irene Schouten of the Netherlands and bronze medalist Weidemann both struggled to seventh and 11th respectively in the final pairing.
South Korea’s Min-Sun Kim won the women’s 500 meters. Vanessa Herzog from Austria was second and Jutta Leerdam from the Netherlands was third.
The women’s 1,500 and team medley, and the men’s 500 and 5,000 meters are on Saturday, followed by the men’s and women’s 1,000 meters and mass start on Sunday.
Blondin has the “now what?” feeling post-Olympic blues, she headed to Beijing to find new purpose in training and racing.
She trained with the men earlier in her career and returned to this group after concentrating on women’s team hunting for four years.
“I started training with the boys again, which I think was a good change,” Blondin said. “I communicate more like a guy. In the past, when I trained in that environment, the kind of edge that gave me was more my attitude with the boys and I really enjoyed working with them.”
© 2022 The Canadian Press