Ivanie Blondin wins mass start gold at speed skating World Cup opener
Ottawa speed skater lone Canadian to win a medal in Obihiro, Japan
The speed is still there for Ivanie Blondin.
The Ottawa speed skater picked up where she left off last season, skating to gold medal in the mass start at the long-track World Cup season opener Friday in Obihiro, Japan.
Blondin earned a decisive victory in a time of eight minutes 25.11 seconds, defeating Esther Kiel of the Netherlands (8:25.45) and Mia Kilburg-Manganello of the United States (8:25.58) in a sprint to the finish line.
The Canadian is coming off a successful 2022-23 season in which she won the World Cup mass start title and brought home a silver medal in the event from the world championships.
"I wasn't quite sure how I would do because we haven't raced in quite some time, but the speed was there, and I was really happy with it," Blondin said. "Near the end, I just went for it."
WATCH | Blondin victorious in Japan:
Canadian teammate Valerie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., finished fourth in 8:26.05.
"From a strategy perspective, Valerie and I were covering for each other to make sure there were no big breakaways," Blondin said. "I think it would have been great if both Canadians were on the podium in the end. Valerie was fourth, so we're not far off from having that happen."
It was the 33-year-old Blondin's second career mass start medal in Obihiro. She won gold at the season-opening event in 2014.
Sherbrooke's Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu narrowly missed the podium in the men's mass start, finishing fourth in 7:46.22.
Bart Hoolwerf of the Netherlands won gold in 7:45.78, followed by Bart Swings of Belgium (7:45.80) and Livio Wenger of Switzerland (7:45.81).
Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., was seventh in the men's 500 metres with a time of 35.08 seconds, only 0.56 seconds off the podium. Tatsuya Shinhama (34.52 seconds), Wataru Morishige (34.69) and Yuma Murakami (34.82).
The World Cup event continues with live coverage available beginning at 12:30 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
WATCH | Action from Day 1 in Obihiro, Japan:
With files from CBC Sports