Road To The Olympic Games



Canadians to battle for medals at world single distances championships

Canadian speed skaters have had a breakthrough season in many distances this year on the World Cup circuit, and they hope to carry that success into the world single distances championships this weekend in Kolomna, Russia.

Canada’s Ivanie Blondin focused on gold in mass start

Canadian speed skater Alex Boisvert-Lacroix is ranked second in the World Cup standings in the 500 metres. (Lyle Aspinall/Canadian Press)

The world single distances championships are one of most prestigious events on the speed skating circuit. 

They don't have the tradition of the world sprint or world all-around competitions, but the title of world champion is one every athlete strives for. 

Canada has had a breakthrough season in many distances this year on the World Cup circuit, and hopes to continue its success this weekend in Kolomna, Russia.

The event will be live streamed on beginning Friday at 9 a.m. ET.

Last season, Canadians won four medals, but two of those were from Denny Morrison, who has been unable to compete this year due to a motorcycle accident last May. 

Alex Boisvert-Lacroix is currently ranked second in the 500 metres of the World Cup standings, with his teammate Gilmore Junio just behind him in third place. Both have won a combined five World Cup medals at that distance this year.

The favourite for gold has to be Russia's Pavel Kulizhnikov, who is the new world-record holder and has the motivation of winning at home.

Sprint team success

The Canadian sprint team's success is due in part to the addition of head coach Kevin Crockett, who won a 500m bronze medal in 1998. His program and attention to technical detail has helped the women's team achieve the best results in a long time.

Heather Mclean is stronger than ever and has won two World Cup bronze medals in the 500m. She currently ranks seventh, and has the potential to stand on the podium in Russia. Her teammate Marsha Hudey, who sits in 14th spot, would consider a top-10 finish a great accomplishment. 

Hong Zhang from China and Sang-Hwa Lee of Korea, the top-2-ranked skaters, should battle it out for gold.

The World Cup champion in the mass start from last season is Canada's Ivanie Blondin. She won a silver medal at last year's world singles event, but has yet to win gold this season. The No. 2-ranked Blondin will get a stiff challenge from No. 1 Dutch skater Irene Schouten.

The race is always full of strategy and controversy. While it's always hard to predict a winner, Blondin is only focused on gold.

Incredible comeback

New Canadian Ted-Jan Bloemen, born in the Netherlands, has made an incredible comeback from a lacerated left tibia which kept him out of competition for over a month. Bloemen won a bronze medal upon his return in the 5,000m event in Stavanger, Norway. 

It's worth noting that the Calgary resident won the 10,000m race and broke the world record in Salt Lake City, Utah back in November.

Dutch skaters Jorrit Bergsma and Sven Kramer will also be challenging for world titles in both events.

American duo

On the women's side, the American duo of Brittany Bowe and Heather Richards are the heavy favourites. 

They have battled against each other throughout the year while breaking world records along the way.

It should prove to be an exciting four days of competition.

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