Blondin & Nesbitt win medals at World Cup

Ivanie Blondin wins silver and Christine Nesbitt takes bronze at World Cup in Russia

KOLOMNA, Russia – Canadian Ivanie Blondin won her first individual World Cup medal today taking silver in thewomen’s mass start at the Essent ISU World Cup in Kolomna, Russia. Teammate Christine Nesbitt returned to the podium for a bronze medal in the 1,500 metres. Seven Canadian women and three men took part in five races today. Sunday's races will feature the women's 3,000 metres and men's 1,500 metres and mass start. (Photo right: Ivanie Blondin at fall trials in November - credit Stephen Maunder)

Ottawa’s Blondin, who captured a bronze medal in team pursuit last weekend in Heerenveen, Netherlands, earned 19 points in today’s mass start to take second place. Bo-Reum Kim of Korea won the gold medal with 31 points. Brianne Tutt of Calgary and Regina’s Kali Christ worked with Blondin during the race and finished 15th and 18th respectively. The mass start, a 20-kilometre 15-lap race, ranking is determined by the accumulated race points gained from intermediate sprints and the final sprint.

"I definitively would not have been able to get the silver medal without my amazing teammates Brianne Tutt and Kali Christ," said Blondin. "They were there with me the whole time and did everything they could to protect me.

"It was an exciting race from when the gun blew, to the finish," added Blondin. "You have to be very aggressive out there since there is a lot of physical contact. It's a good thing I know how to defend myself on that rink."

Nesbitt, from London, Ont., skated in the last pair of the 1,500 metres with gold medalist Marrit Leenstra of the Netherlands, who won in a time of one minute and 55.03 seconds. Nesbitt’s time of 1:56.16 was 0.19 seconds faster than last weekend when she took the gold medal in Heerenveen, Netherlands. Skating in the first pair and in front of her home crowd, Yekaterina Shikhova of Russia set a brisk pace to earn the silver medal in a time of 1:55.52.

“I felt like I had no glide and had to fight too much in the first 700 metres,” said Nesbitt. “I had no energy left for the last two laps.” Nesbitt, coached by Xiuli Wang and Mark Wild, is competing in her 50th career World Cup. Today’s bronze medal brings her tally of individual medals to 60 – 29 gold, 16 silver and 15 bronze.

Three other Canadian women were also in the division A 1,500 metres. Winnipeg’s Brittany Schussler was 14th in a time 1:58.67. Racing in the second pair against each other, Kali Christ of Regina took 17th spot in 1:58.81, followed by Winnipeg’s Cindy Klassen in 18th (1:59.05).

“I had a good race and was close to my PB (personal best) skating on a European oval, so I am happy with my race,” said Christ, who was competing in her second career 1,500-metre division A race.

In 1,500 metres division B, Kaylin Irvine of Calgary was 17th in 2:03.31.

Toronto’s Jordan Belchos won the silver medal in the division B 5,000 metres in a personal best time of six minutes and 24.44 seconds. Lucas Makowsky of Regina was 11th (6:30.74) and Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., was 28th (6:40.70).

“I had a more technical focus for this race and I tried to attack every lap,” said Belchos. “It was nice to set a PB (personal best) in Europe.” His previous best in the 5,000 metres was 6:25.27 set at the Calgary Olympic Oval in January 2009.

With today's medals, the World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance stands at $20,000 (5 gold, 10 silver; 5 bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. The last two seasons, Intact Insurance awarded more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

The Essent ISU World Cup #6, featuring the 500- and 1,000-metre sprint distances, will be held at the Olympic Oval in Calgary on Jan. 19 and 20. Ticket information and event details will be available shortly.