Nesbitt & Blondin finish in top 10

Christine Nesbitt and Ivanie Blondin finish in top 10 at long track World Cup

HEERENVEEN, Netherlands
– Ten Canadians competed today to kick off the Essent ISU World Cup season in Heerenveen, Netherlands, with Christine Nesbitt taking eighth place in the 500 meters and Ivanie Blondin securing 10th spot in the 3,000 metres.

The World Cup #1 continues through to Sunday. Tomorrow’s races feature the women’s second 500 metres, 1,500 metres and mass start, and the men’s first 500 metres, 1,000 metres and team pursuit.

Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin finished a career-best 10th in the women’s 3,000 metres division A race. Skating in the sixth of eight pairs with the bronze medallist, the 22-year-old had a time of four minutes and 13.53 minutes, and also earned 25 World Cup points. Germany’s Stephanie Beckert was first in a time of four minutes and 4.39 seconds, followed by Martina Sábliková, from the Czech Republic, in second place (4:06.71), and third position went to Jorien Ter Mors (4:06.90), from the Netherlands.

"I am very happy with the race. I was afraid that I did not really belong in the A-group, but I proved to myself and others I do," said Blondin. "Top-10 in the A-group is my best result ever.

"I started out a little fast, but did not back off too much," added Blondin. "It turned out to be a tough race. But I grinded it out and had good fight in me and ended up with a good result."

In the first women's 500-metre division A race, Christine Nesbitt was eighth (38.57 seconds) and Danielle Wotherspoon was 20th (39.61). Korea’s Sang-Hwa Lee took the gold medal in a time of 37.85 seconds. American Heather Richardson won the silver medal (37.95) and Noa Kodaira, from Japan, had the bronze (38.26). Nesbitt collected 36 World Cup points and Wotherspoon received five.

In the women’s 3,000 metres division B, Winnipeg’s Brittany Schussler and Cindy Klassen placed sixth and seventh, respectively, while Calgary’s Brianne Tutt was 19th. Schussler crossed the finish in a time of four minutes and 15.13 seconds, followed by Klassen at 4:16.08. They received 11 and nine World Cup points, respectively. Competing in her second career World Cup and only race this weekend, Tutt stopped the clock at 4:22.35.

There were two Canadian women in the first 500 metres division B race. Anastasia Bucsis, from Calgary, was fifth for eight World Cup points in a time of 39.39 seconds and Winnipeg’s Shannon Rempel was eighth (39.60), earning two points in the ranking.

In the men's division B 5,000 metres, Regina’s Lucas Makowsky finished fifth with a time of six minutes and 32.47 seconds. Jordan Belchos, from Toronto, took eighth place (6:34.96). The Netherlands swept the podium with Sven Kramer winning gold (6:16.09), Jorrit Bergsma with silver (6:16.78) and Jan Blokhuijsen taking bronze (6:16.81).

Check out the “Long track team notes for World Cup #1” for complete list of athletes and updated information.

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance stands at $16,000 (3 gold, 9 silver; 4 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 (host committee website), 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.