Canadian speed skaters capture silver in team pursuit
Ivanie Blondin, Kali Christ & Cindy Klassen combine for podium finish
Canada's Ivanie Blondin, Kali Christ and Cindy Klassen combined for the first time this season to capture a silver medal Sunday in the team pursuit at a long-track speedskating World Cup in Erfurt, Germany.
Jamie Gregg of Edmonton was fourth in the men's 500 metres, missing the podium by one one-hundredth of a second.
Blondin, from Ottawa, Christ, a Regina native, and Winnipeg's Klassen skated in the final pair of the team pursuit with the Netherlands, finishing in three minutes 4.33 seconds, just 1.51 seconds behind the gold medallist Dutch squad. Poland captured the bronze.
"It was a new combo, but we went out there with confidence and we skated a really good consistent race," Blondin said. "We all helped each other really well. It just worked out super great." Canada and the Netherlands are tied for the overall team pursuit title with 250 points apiece with one race remaining.
The second-place finish was the first career World Cup podium finish for Christ.
"It was my second team pursuit race at a World Cup, but my first one where it's been all out and felt really good," she said. "The three of us worked really well."
Smeekens continues torrid pace
Gregg raced to a time of 35.29 in the 500. Dutchman Jan Smeekens won the 500 for the second time in as many days to further extend his lead in the World Cup standings.
Smeekens clocked 34.96 seconds to beat Japan's Joji Kato by nine hundredths of a second. Another Dutchman, Ronald Mulder, finished 0.32 seconds back to complete identical podium placings from Saturday.
Smeekens is all but assured of the World Cup title ahead of the last meet in Heerenveen. The 26-year-old has 830 points, with Kato second on 686, and Mulder's twin brother Michel third on 485.
Zbigniew Brodka of Poland won the men's 1,500 in 1:46.88 seconds, one tenth of a second ahead of Latvia's Haralds Silovs.
American Brian Hansen, who claimed his first World Cup win in Saturday's 1000, was third, 0.13 back.
Brodka leads the season standings with 340 points after five races, 56 ahead of Norway's Havard Bokko, who finished fifth, and 85 ahead of Hansen in third.
American skater Brittany Bowe clocked 1:15.34 seconds to win the women's 1,000 metre race, four tenths of a second ahead of Ireen Wust of the Netherlands. Russia's Olga Fatkulina was third, 0.45 back.
Heather Richardson of the U.S. still leads on 501 points, despite finishing 12th, ahead of Czech skater Karolina Erbanova on 429 and Bowe on 390.
With files from CBCSports.ca