Olympics

Canada makes golden return to speed skating competition at Heerenveen World Cup event

After nearly a year’s absence from competition, Canada showed its hunger to compete — capturing gold in the women’s team pursuit and bronze in the men’s at a World Cup event in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

Canadians top podium in women's team pursuit, capture bronze in men's event

Canada's Ivanie Blondin, left, Valerie Maltais, centre, and Isabelle Weidemann, right, captured gold in the women's team pursuit at a speed skating World Cup event in Heerenveen, Netherlands on Friday. (Peter Dejong/Associated Press )

Canada's speed skaters returned to the oval with a flourish on Friday.

After nearly a year's absence from competition, Canada showed its hunger to compete — capturing gold in the women's team pursuit and bronze in the men's at a World Cup event in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

The women's team of Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann and Valérie Maltais took gold with a combined time of two minutes 56.718 seconds. 

The host Dutch came second (2:57.040), with Norway taking bronze (2:59.247). 

On the men's side, Canada was led by 2018 Olympic champion in the 10,000 metres Ted-Jan Bloemen, who together with teammates Jordan Belchos and Connor Howe captured bronze with a combined time of 3:41.711 

Hosts Netherlands finished first (3.40.332), while Norway claimed silver (3.41.628).

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Both medals were big wins for a Canadian Team that hadn't competed since the COVID-19 pandemic brought international competition to a halt last March.

The team has been struggling to practise at home, after the ice plant at the Calgary Olympic Oval was shut down in September due to a mechanical issue. 

Forced to get creative, the Canadian team went as far as to train on frozen lakes. 

Canada will look to extend its hot start as the competition in Heerenveen continues throughout the weekend. 

WATCH | Canada's top speed skaters dazzle onlookers with practice on wild ice:

Lack of ice sends Team Canada speed skaters out into the Great Outdoors to train

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Tyson Langelaar posted this video of Team Canada's training session out at Alberta's picturesque Gap Lake in late November after maintenance and COVID restrictions put a stop to ice time in Calgary. 0:24

With files from CBC Sports' Devin Heroux

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