Canada’s De Haitre, Blondin win speed-skating medals, pre-qualify for Olympics

De Haitre, Blondin win speed-skating medals

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — Vincent De Haitre earned the silver medal in the men’s 1,000 metres and Ivanie Blondin collected bronze in the women’s 5,000 metres on Saturday at the world single distance speedskating championships. 

De Haitre and Blondin also filled the first criteria for pre-selection on the Canadian team at the 2018 Olympic Games with these podium results.

In the men’s 1,000 metres, De Haitre of Cumberland, Ont., came up with his first-ever medal at world single distance championships. The medal comes one year ahead of the Olympic Games and on the same ice where the long-track speedskating races will be held in South Korea.

De Haitre skated to a time of 1:08.54, Saturday, giving him silver and a spot between two Dutch skaters, Kjeld Nuis (1:08.26) and Kai Verbij (1:08.78). Laurent Dubreuil (1:09.43) from Levis, Que., took eighth place while Quebec City’s Alexandre St-Jean (1:09.56) was 12th.

“It’s still sinking in,” said De Haitre, who won gold in the 1,000 metres at the third World Cup stage of the season, held in Kazakhstan. “I knew I had the potential to do it throughout the season, but there was still a lot of work to do to be able to reach it.

“I’m confident that this is a pretty good step for my progression towards the Olympics and I’m excited to see how it will go.”

In the women’s 5,000 metres, Blondin, from Ottawa, earned bronze in 6:57.14. Martina Sablíkova (6:52.38) of the Czech Republic won gold, followed by Germany’s Claudia Pechstein (6:53.93).

“It was a great race from start to finish. I showed that I was gutsy,” said Blondin, who finished fourth in Thursday’s 3,000 metres. “The 3000 metres really got to me personally, as did the team pursuit. I really wanted that medal and I was so close to it. It kind of made me get fired up about it.”

De Haitre and Blondin won Canada its first medals since 2009 in these distances at the world single distance championships. That year, when the competition was held in Richmond, B.C., Clara Hughes and Denny Morrison had respectively earned silver medals in the women’s 5,000 metres and men’s 1,000 metres.

By each winning an individual medal on Saturday, De Haitre and Blondin also filled the first criteria for pre-selection on the Canadian team for the 2018 Olympic Games. This pre-selection qualification will require performance confirmation(s) during World Cups this fall. Detailed selection criteria will be available after this weekend’s competition.

In the men’s 10,000 metres, Calgary’s Ted-Jan Bloemen  ended up at the foot of the podium, finishing fourth, two seconds away from a bronze medal. He skated to a time of 12:54.63.

A silver medalist in that distance at last year’s world single distance championships, Bloemen saw Sven Kramer win gold, the Dutch skater threatening his world record time of 12:36.30 by skating the race in 12:38.99. Jorrit Bergsma (12:43.95), also from the Netherlands, earned silver while Germany’s Patrick Beckert (12:52.76) collected bronze.

Ottawa’s Isabelle Weidemann and Toronto’s Jordan Belchos both came up with new personal bests for the second time this week. Weidemann skated the 5,000-metre distance in 6:59.75, Saturday, to finish sixth. Her previous personal best stood at 7:03.08. As for Belchos, he finished sixth and beat his personal best by five seconds, improving it from 13:06.07 to 13:01.40.

In the women’s 1,000 metres, Calgary’s Kaylin Irvine and Winnipeg’s Heather McLean took 18th and 19th place respectively.

The Associated Press

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