Blondin, Belchos capture distance events as Intact Insurance 2014 Speed Skating Team Selections conclude

- Canadian Olympic Committee will announce Olympic team Jan. 22


Seven minutes of tough racing came down to less than half-a-second difference Friday as Ivanie Blondin edged Nicole Garrido to win the women’s 5000m title on the final day of the Intact Insurance 2014 Speed Skating Team Selections at the Olympic Oval.


Blondin, of Ottawa, won with a time of 7:18.45, narrowly beating Edmonton’s Garrido, who finished in 7:18.87. Josie Spence of Kamloops, B.C., was third in 7:23.24.


Jordan Belchos of Toronto took the men’s 10000m in 13:24.96. Stefan Waples of Winnipeg grabbed the silver in 13:53.65 while Francois Déry of St-Jean-Chrysostome, Que. claimed the bronze in 13:58.30.


Skaters were vying for a spot on Canada’s team for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Canada has one quota spot in the women’s 5000m and is the first alternate country in the men’s 10000m.


“I wouldn’t say I skated really well but I’m obviously happy that I came out on top today,” the 23-year-old Blondin told gathered reporters. “I think it’s kind of a miracle that I did.”


Blondin also put herself in position to skate the 3000m in Sochi with a second-place finish at that distance at the trials on Dec. 28. She is also a candidate to skate the team pursuit race at the Olympic Games.


Following the Olympic Qualifying competitions (Essent ISU World Cups), the Canadian long-track Olympic team currently has the ability to send 18 athletes to the Games (10 women, 8 men), with the athletes to be nominated by Speed Skating Canada’s Olympic Selection Committee following the Selections and announced publicly on Jan. 22 at Calgary’s Olympic Oval.


Blondin is in her fourth international long track season. She moved over from Speed Skating Canada’s short track program and participated in both discipline’s at the separate Olympic trials for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but did not go to Vancouver.


“I feel like I still have a lot of work to do,” she said. “On the fifth of Jan we’re going to be leaving for Tucson (Arizona) for a training camp. I think it will be nice to get away and relax and just calm down a little bit from the Olympic trials.”


Belchos was happy with his skate Friday. “I just tried to do good lap after good lap for 25 laps and I’m more than happy with it,” the 24-year-old said.


Belchos will continue to train in the hopes that another country gives up their 10000m spot in Sochi, which may allow him to go to the Olympics. Canada will learn if they have received that spot on Jan. 17.  “I’d rather be in this situation than be out, but it’s tough,” he said.


Other winners at the trials were Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m distances; and Brittany Schussler of Winnipeg in the 3000m.


Jamie Gregg of Edmonton captured the men’s 500m. Vincent De Haître of Cumberland, Ont., won the 1000m; Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., the 1500m; and Mathieu Giroux of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., the men’s 5,000m.