Canada

Canadian women’s speedskating team capture gold at World Cup for second week

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Canada’s team Isabelle Weidemann, left, Valerie Maltais, centre, and Ivanie Blondin, right, celebrate their victory in the women’s team pursuit at the Ice Skating World Cup in Thialf on Jan. 29. 2021.

VINCENT JANNINK/AFP/Getty Images

Canada’s women’s team pursuit speedskating squad has captured gold at a World Cup for the second week in a row, while the Canadian men’s squad earned silver.

Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann and Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., beat the host Netherlands by just under a second on Friday.

Norway was third.

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The three countries stood on the same spots on the podium at last week’s opening World Cup of the season in the same venue.

Canada switched its order for Friday’s race, with Maltais starting, Blondin going second and Weidemann finishing.

“We were really nervous before the race, but I think we really focused on the tactical and technical aspects,” Maltais said. “We executed them well, even better than expected, and we proved to ourselves that we could go even faster.

“I’m proud of us because, when you have a strategy that wins the weekend before, it takes courage to completely change things in order to try and get even better.”

Meanwhile, Calgary’s Ted-Jan Bloemen, Toronto’s Jordan Belchos and Connor Howe of Canmore, Alta., finished second in the men’s team pursuit behind Norway on Friday.

Russia was third.

The Canadian men were third in last week’s race.

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“It’s amazing to me how quickly we’ve all clicked together,” Belchos said. “While we train together, we don’t train specifically for the team pursuit all the time. I think today we executed pretty well. I’m really impressed with (Howe) for coming in these past two weeks and doing just a perfect job.”

Belchos later finished fifth in a mass start semifinal to qualify for the final.

Racing continues Saturday and Sunday.

The COVID-19 pandemic decimated the racing season and compressed it into a pair of World Cups followed by next month’s world championship in Heerenveen.

Canada’s long-track speedskating team has also been without ice at Calgary’s Olympic Oval since Sept. 5 because of a mechanical failure.

Their on-ice training was limited to a two-week camp in an indoor oval in Fort St. John, B.C., outdoor oval skating in Red Deer, Alta., and short-track workouts in Calgary.

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