Canada Edged Off Podium in Team Pursuit Races at World Championships

Team Pursuit ladies finish 4th and men 5th; McLean earns top 10 finish in ladies 500m

INZELL, GERMANY – Canada narrowly missed out on a pair of podium finishes in the team pursuit races at the 2019 ISU World Single Distance Championships in Germany, with the ladies’ and men’s teams earning a fourth and fifth place finishes, respectively.

The ladies’ team of Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann, both of Ottawa, Ont., and Valérie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., posted a time of 2:58.307 in the race, putting them only 0.58 seconds behind bronze medalist Russia (2:57.725). Japan (2:55.785) brought home gold, while the Netherlands (2:56.205) finish in silver medal position.

Canada entered the world championship ranked third amongst eleven countries, having captured a silver and bronze medal on the World Cup circuit.

“We are happy with our race. We skated well together and battled hard,” Maltais told Sportcom. “Our time wasn’t far off the podium. It was the first time we skated this discipline together on the international stage, so it’s motivating for next season.”

On the men’s side, Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, Alta., Jordan Belchos of Toronto, Ont. and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu of Sherbrooke, Que. were unable to crack the top 3, settling for a fifth-place finish. The team’s result was in line with their performance on the World Cup stage earlier in the season – a fourth-place and two fifth-place finishes.

Their time of 3:43.046 at the world championship was 1.73 seconds behind a podium spot. The Netherlands (3:38.432) earned the gold medal, ahead of Norway (3:40.807) and Russia (3:41.314).

A total of six Canadian skaters were also in action in individual distances on Friday.

Heather McLean of Winnipeg, Man. was the fastest in the ladies 500m, racing to a 10th place finish with a time of 38.055. It was her third top 10 result in that distance at the world championships, having previously finished fifth in 2017 and ninth in 2016.

“I’m feeling more like myself with every race I skate this season,” said McLean. “I am happy to have cracked the top 10, but not satisfied. Looking forward to the 1000m tomorrow.”

Kaylin Irvine of Calgary, Alta., who was coming off a fourth-place finish at last weekend’s World Cup in Hamar, was 14th (38.160), while teammate Marsha Hudey of White City, Sask. was 20th (38.540).

Austria’s Vanessa Herzog, who has medaled at every World Cup stage so far this season, set a new track record and personal best time of 37.124 to win gold. She was joined on the podium by Japanese skaters Nao Kodaira (37.202) and Konami Soga (37.607).

Meanwhile, Canada’s three competitors in the men’s 500m all finished outside of the top 10.

Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis, Que. was the top performer, posting a time of 34.803 to finish the race in 14th position. It was a below-average result for the country’s top ranked sprinter, who entered the event having earned five top 10 results in nine races on the World Cup circuit this season.

Teammate Gilmore Junio of Calgary, Alta. finished in 17th position (34.857), while Christopher Fiola of Montreal, Que. was ranked 23rd (35.550).

The podium included Ruslan Murashov of Russia (34.225), Håvard Holmefjord Lorentzen of Norway (34.356) and Viktor Mushtakov of Russia (34.432).

The competition continues Saturday with the 1000m, ladies 5000m and men’s 10,000m, while the 1500m and mass start races will take place on Sunday. A detailed event schedule and live results can be found on the ISU Results Portal.

CBC Sports and Radio-Canada will be live streaming the event on Saturday (7:15AM EST) and Sunday (8:30AM EST). CBC Sports will also televise the races live as part of their Road to the Olympic Games program on Saturday from 12:00PM to 1:00PM EST.

The full list of participating athletes and the distances they will be contesting this weekend is below. A biography of each athlete can be found on the Speed Skating Canada website.

Ladies Team

  • BLONDIN, Ivanie (Ottawa, ON) – 1500m, 3000m, 5000m, Mass Start, Team Pursuit
  • CHRIST, Kali (Regina, SK) – 1000m (R), 1500m (R), Team Pursuit (S), Team Sprint
  • HUDEY, Marsha (White City, SK) – 500m, Team Sprint (S)
  • IRVINE, Kaylin (Calgary, AB) – 500m, 1000m (R), Team Sprint
  • MALTAIS, Valérie (Saguenay, QC) – 1500m, 3000m, 5000m (S), Mass Start, Team Pursuit
  • MCLEAN, Heather (Winnipeg, MB) – 500m, 1000m, Team Sprint
  • WEIDEMANN, Isabelle (Ottawa, ON) – 1500m (S), 3000m, 5000m, Mass Start (S), Team Pursuit

Men’s Team

  • BELCHOS, Jordan (Toronto, ON) – 5000m, 10,000 (R), Team Pursuit
  • BLOEMEN, Ted-Jan (Calgary, AB) – 5000m, 10,000 (S), Team Pursuit
  • DUBREUIL, Laurent (Lévis, QC) – 500m, 1000m
  • FIOLA, Christopher (Montreal, QC) – 500m
  • FISH, Graeme (Moose Jaw, SK) – 5000m, 10,000m
  • HOWE, Connor (Canmore, AB) – 1000m (S), 1500m
  • GÉLINAS-BEAULIEU, Antoine (Sherbrooke, QC) – 1000m, 1500m, Team Pursuit
  • JUNIO, Gilmore (Calgary, AB) – 500m
  • LANGELAAR, Tyson (Winnipeg, MB) – 1500m (R), Mass Start (S), Team Pursuit (S)
  • NEUFELD, Jess (Winnipeg, MB) – Mass Start

* (R) Reserve: a spot that could become available in the distance should another country not accept their spot

* (S) Substitution: an athlete that could fill a spot should there be an injury to someone else on the team