Canadians capture 3 medals at World Cup speed skating event in Beijing
Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais, Laurent Dubreuil climb the podium in China
Canada won three medals at the speed skating World Cup stop in Beijing on Saturday.
In the women's mass start, Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin won silver and Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., took bronze. Dutch skater Marijke Groenewoud claimed gold with a blistering time of eight minutes 24.71 seconds, more than 13 seconds faster than Blondin.
"It's fun to be on the podium as teammates. It's a rare occasion but I'm sure it will happen more in the future," Blondin said of Maltais in a statement released by Speed Skating Canada.
Blondin admitted competing has been a struggle this week while battling an illness.
"I'm trying to stay positive and get through the weekend, doing as much as I can do with the energy I have left in the tank," she said.
It was only the second time in World Cup history that Canada had two female skaters on the podium in the distance, the first happening last season in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland.
WATCH | Blondin earns mass start silver medal, Maltais adds bronze in China:
Groenewoud broke away from the pack near the midway mark of the 16-lap race and cruised to an easy victory. Blondin (8:37.58) and Maltais (8:37.74) controlled the action in the chase pack until the final sprint, before breaking away.
"We had a great strategy. We knew going into the race that the Dutch skaters would simultaneously attack," said Blondin. "I said that I would go after one attack at the beginning, but then I knew I had to conserve myself if I wanted to make it to the finish line."
Blondin won Olympic silver in Chinese capital
The bronze was Maltais's second medal on the World Cup circuit, having previously captured silver in Poland last season. For Blondin, it marked a return to the podium at the Ice Ribbon, where she previously won 2022 Olympic silver in the mass start in Beijing.
"I surprised myself, being able to sprint well at the end. I think what allowed me to do that was a bit of a change of strategy," Maltais said. "When the Marijke left to make her attack, no one who wanted to follow her or really close the gap, so the rest of the race was won in the peloton.
"My job was to try to hide as much as possible and see if my legs would be good enough for the sprint. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, to be really patient. I had to tell myself several times to wait and try to position myself as best as possible, and today it worked well."
In the men's 500 metres, Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., won a silver medal with a time of 34.81, just 0.12 seconds behind gold medallist Wataru Morishige of Japan.
Dubreuil's silver marked his return to the World Cup podium after a slow start due to injuries.
WATCH | Dubreuil takes silver in men's 500 metres behind Japanese opponent:
It was the Canadian athlete's fastest start to a race this season "by a lot" and while he made a few mistakes, Dubreuil noted he demonstrated good technique and strong pushes.
"I have closed the gap [on the competition] to the point where I feel like I will be able to win more races," he said. "After a few complicated months due to injuries, it feels good to finish the 500-metres races in Asia with a medal."
Dubreuil is fourth overall in the World Cup standings in the distance with 166 points, trailing the Japanese trio of Morishige, Yuma Murakami and Tatsuya Shinhama.
The World Cup event continues Sunday with live coverage beginning at 4 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
With files from CBC Sports