Canadian women take team pursuit silver at speed skating World Cup opener
Blondin, Weidemann, Maltais combine for Canada's lone medal on 2nd day of competition
Ivanie Blondin earned her second medal in as many days at the speed skating World Cup opener in Obihiro, Japan, on Saturday, linking up with Isabelle Weidemann and Valérie Maltais to take the women's team pursuit silver.
The gold medallists in the event at the 2022 Beijing Olympics clocked in at 2 minutes, 59.25 seconds, which trailed Japan by 1.22 seconds for first.
The Netherlands - which Canada was paired up against - took bronze with a time of 3:01.29.
WATCH | Canada skates to team pursuit silver:
Canada debuted a new strategy in Japan, opting to utilize Maltais at the front of the pack throughout the race instead of executing in-race exchanges.
"We're pretty stoked," said Weidemann to Speed Skating Canada. "It was our first time trying this new strategy where we don't exchange, so we weren't super sure what to expect. We were very nervous to go out and try something new, but we're very happy with today's result. We felt very powerful and stayed in-synch very well. We've often struggled off the start, myself especially because I'm a little slower, but we nailed that aspect of it today.
"We're happy to get this first one done and are looking forward to improving for the next one. The Japanese have a great team, and we have a one-second gap to close on them, so a few weeks of training and perfecting the strategy will hopefully help us push for the top of the podium again."
Japan's victory marks the first for a trio other than Canada since December of 2019, which was also won by Japan.
Blondin and Weidemann, both of Ottawa, and Maltais of La Baie, Que., had won eight straight World Cup team pursuit races in the Team Pursuit over the 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.
While Blondin earned her first individual medal of the season on Friday with a gold in the women's mass start, she didn't fare as well in the women's 1500-metre event on Saturday, finishing 11th.
WATCH | Blondin victorious in Japan:
Maltais placed 10th and Weidemann finished 14th, well back of gold medallist Takagi.
The World Cup event continues with live coverage available beginning at 12:30 a.m. ET on Sunday on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
Other Canadian results
- Connor Howe, Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu and David La Rue placed sixth in the men's pursuit, which was won by Norway.
- La Rue (14th), Gélinas-Beaulieu (18th) and Howe (19th) represented Canada in the men's 1,500m, which was won by Japan's Masaya Yamada.
- Brooklyn McDougall (20th) was the lone Canadian participant in the women's 500m. Femke Kok secured gold in the event.
WATCH | Action from Day 2 in Obihiro, Japan: