Ivanie Blondin (CAN) crowned a golden weekend at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating in Nur-Sultan with two wins on Sunday. After an unexpected career first 1500m World Cup victory, she joined Valérie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann in winning the Team Pursuit to bring her gold medal haul for the weekend to three, including her triumph in Friday’s 5000m.
From B Division to top-tier gold
Blondin’s success in the 1500m was a complete surprise as originally she had not been scheduled to skate in the top tier.
Ivanie Blondin (CAN) in the 1500m en route to the second of her three gold medals at the weekend 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
"This morning I was supposed to skate in the B group because I skipped the 1500m in Poland (two weeks ago) as it was just before the Mass Start, but today two more riders dropped out (of the A Division)," she explained.
"I wasn't really upset, but (I was worried that) I wouldn't have enough time to recover for the Team Pursuit (which was due an hour and a half after the 1500m A Division)."
The 29-year-old Canadian started in the first pairing and with 1:55.59 she trashed the 2011 track record of 1:56.10 set by compatriot Christine Nesbitt.
The other medalists also stayed under 1:56. Brittany Bowe (USA) said after her race: "I thought it was a beatable time, but hats off to her." The American finished third in 1:55.96.
Ireen Wüst (NED) clocked 1:55.88 to end up second and retain the lead in the 1500m World Cup.
She said of her race in the Alau Ice Palace: "It was OK, not exactly how I wanted it. The opening was good and I did not want to push through flat out, so I held back a little, but that was a little too much. When I tried to push a bit more again I blew myself up. It's very warm and dry in this hall, which makes it extremely tough."
Ivanie Blondin (CAN), left, celebrates with Brittany Bowe (USA) after the 1500m medal ceremony at Alau Ice Palace 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Blondin won the first 1500m World Cup gold of her career after scoring a similar first in the 5000m on Friday.
"I gained a lot of confidence coming off of that 5000m," she said. “My whole mind-set on the road this year, going to Spain between the World Cups, made me really relaxed and I'm really enjoying everything.
"(When I saw my time) I thought maybe I would end up top-five, but I wasn't sure."
Blondin admitted that her weekend results made her a favorite for the World Allround Championships in Hamar in February/March. "But we have to pay our own way to go there, so I'm not 100 percent sure if I'm going to go. But with the results I just posted I don’t think I have a choice. Maybe a sponsor can pay for it," she concluded with a smile.
Bravo for Blondin
Both Wüst and Bowe were more impressed than surprised by Blondin's performance. Bowe said: "On one hand it's surprise, on the other hand it's not. She's really been skating well this year, having a lot of speed at the end of the Mass Starts, and the win in the 5k was phenomenal. "
Wüst agreed: "I don't think it's a real surprise. She's skating very well, all Canadians are skating very well. She's just a very good skater."
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings 1500m Ladies
Canada hail team effort
In the Team Pursuit Canada confirmed Wüst's comments. Weidemann, Maltais and Blondin stopped the clock at 3:00.24.
"It was a good race," Maltais said. "We learned from what we did in Poland (when Canada took bronze in the Team Pursuit two weeks ago). We knew we could do better and we executed the stuff a lot better. We are a good team and we support each other. If someone's struggling a bit more, we always stay together."
Ivanie Blondin, left, with team-mates Isabelle Weidemann and Valérie Maltais celebrate gold in the Team Pursuit 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
"I knew we were going to be close," Weidemann said. "We had some pretty fast laps towards the end and I thought it was going to come down to the last tenths, but I felt pretty confident. "
De Jong could hardly hide her frustration. "We have a silver medal subscription," she said, referring to their runner-up performance behind Russia in Poland. Yevgenia Lalenkova, Elizaveta Kazelina and Natalya Voronina (RUS) took bronze in Nur-Sultan.
Wüst was displeased with the schedule, which she said offered little time to rest between the 1500m and the Team Pursuit on Sunday. "(The 1500m) is a similar type of effort with similar lap times as the Team Pursuit, and there's only an hour and a half in between," she said. "That's really tough. The Canadians had Maltais and Weidemann in the B Group (leaving them a few hours more rest), so I'm actually quite satisfied about the three of us (all having little rest after skating the A Division 1500m)."
ISU World Cup Speed Skating Standings Team Pursuit Ladies
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