Ivanie Blondin wins Mass Start gold medal in photo finish

Laurent Dubreuil sets new personal best en route to sixth consecutive 500m podium

SALT LAKE CITY, USA - Ivanie Blondin captured gold in the women's Mass Start on Sunday in Salt Lake City, narrowly outstretching Dutch skater Marijke Groenewoud at the finish line to reach the top step of the World Cup podium.

Norway's Sofie Karoline Haugen looked to have a comfortable lead going into the final lap, but she couldn't hold off a hard-charging Blondin, who moved from sixth-place to first-place after successfully chasing down and passing the race leader in the final straight.

The Ottawa native clocked in at 8:31.870, just one-hundreth of a second quicker than Groenewoud's 8:31.880. Despite getting overtaken in the last lap, Haugen had just enough left in the track to hold on for bronze (8:32.260).

The win helped Blondin (336) leap past Dutch rival Irene Schouten (326) in the World Cup rankings, with Groenewoud sitting in third (314).

Blondin wasn't the only Canadian to reach the podium on Sunday, as Laurent Dubreuil continued his winning ways, skating a new personal best time of 34:053 en route to his sixth consecutive World Cup medal in the men's 500m. 

The 29-year old sprinter posted a time of 34:053 - faster than the 34.099 he skated in Friday's race - to secure the bronze medal. His time was dangerously close to Jeremy Wotherspoon's 14-year old Canadian record of 34.03.

Wataru Morishige of Japan won gold with a rare sub-34 second time of 33.997, while Russia's Artem Arefyev captured silver with a time of 34.003.

Dubreuil, the reigning 500m World Champion, has now captured one gold, two silver and three bronze medals in the distance to start the season. He sits atop the World Cup standings with 312 points, 26 points ahead of his closest competitor, Japan's Tatsuya Shinhama (286).

The native of Lévis, Que., also cracked the top-10 in the men's 1000m, finishing eighth (1:07.305), one spot behind Canmore's Connor Howe, who set a personal best mark of 1:07.194.

The ISU World Cup season continues next weekend in Calgary, where Canadian athletes will have one last chance to pre-qualify themselves for Beijing 2022. 

Quotes

  • “I was a little sick last week and am just coming back from that. It was a tough weekend both mentally and physically, but I just put my head down, worked hard and it resulted in some good performances. I’m confident with the shape I am in right now and I think it’s translating to good results on the ice.” – Ivanie Blondin

  • “It was not a perfect race – I could have gone a little faster – but I'm very happy with the result. I haven't had a perfect race yet this year. Each race, I had little something that I think I could improve on, but what makes me happy is my ability to put forth consistent performances that are helping me win medals.” – Laurent Dubreuil

  • “Salt Lake City is the fastest ice in the world, so when I come here my goal is to skate under 33 seconds. If you take my start from Friday and my lap from today, I think I would have done it by several hundredths of a second. I would have liked to go faster, but if I had to do a perfect race this year it would be in February at the Games." – Laurent Dubreuil

Results

Men's 500m

  • Laurent Dubreuil 3rd
  • Alex Boisvert-Lacroix 5th (Division B)
  • Gilmore Junio 9th (Division B)
  • Jacob Graham 23rd (Division B)

Women's 1500m

  • Ivanie Blondin 13th
  • Isabelle Weidemann 15th
  • Valérie Maltais 20th
  • Maddison Pearman 7th (Division B)
  • Alexa Scott 10th (Division B)

Men's 1000m

  • Connor Howe 7th
  • Laurent Dubreuil 8th
  • Vincent De Haitre 17th
  • Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu 18th
  • Tyson Langelaar 21st (Division B)

Women's Mass Start

  • Ivanie Blondin 1st
  • Valérie Maltais 13th