Team Canada - Ivanie BlondinPhoto: Carina Johansen/NTB Scanpix via AP
Photo: Carina Johansen/NTB Scanpix via AP

Blondin, Bloemen strike silver at speed skating World Cup

Ivanie Blondin and Ted-Jan Bloemen both won silver in the only pre-Olympic World Cup races for speed skating’s longest timed distances on Sunday in Stavanger, Norway.

Skating in the fifth of sixth pairings in the women’s 5000m, Blondin’s time of 6:57.34 slotted her behind 45-year-old German Claudia Pechstein (6:56.60), a three-time Olympic champion of the 5000m, but ahead of Czech Martina Sablikova (6:59.95), the two-time defending Olympic champion in the distance. Isabelle Weidemann finished just 0.87 of a second behind Sablikova in fourth place.

Blondin had been paired with Dutchwoman Irene Shouten and the two pushed each other to their limits.

« I don’t know how many laps in she started to go a little bit faster. She was trying to break me, we were both trying to break each other and in the end, I ended up a little bit stronger, » said Blondin. « But it could have been the other way around. You never know what’s going to happen in the 5000m. »

Blondin still had the gold within her sights heading into the final lap, but where Pechstein had finished with a 33.2-second effort, Blondin clocked 34.4 seconds.

Team Canada - Ivanie Blondin

Team Canada’s Ivanie Blondin in the women’s 5000m at the speed skating World Cup in Stravanger, Norway, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. (Carina Johansen/NTB Scanpix via AP)

« I was really tired and rather than keeping the focus on my technique, I was trying too hard to go as fast as I can, » said Blondin. « In speed skating if you try too hard, you end up going slower. »

This is Blondin’s third career World Cup medal in the 5000m. She previously won bronze at a 2014-15 race in Seoul and a 2015-16 race in Salt Lake City. Blondin also captured a 5000m bronze at the 2017 World Single Distances Championships.

She was a triple medallist at last week’s season-opening World Cup in Heerenveen, Netherlands, winning mass start silver to go with bronze medals in the 3000m and team pursuit. None of those events were on the program in Stavanger.

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Team Canada - Ted-Jan Bloemen

Team Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen competes in the men’s 5000m at the Speed Skating World Cup in Heerenveen, Netherlands, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Bloemen finished second to Dutch superstar Sven Kramer in the men’s 10,000m. Skating head-to-head in the final pairing, Bloemen took the pace out early and held the lead through the first 8000m. But Kramer’s lap times had started dropping in the last quarter of the race and he completed his last lap in 29.5 seconds to finish in 12:50.97. Bloemen was 1.67 seconds behind in 12:52.64. Another Dutchman, Erik-Jan Kooiman took the bronze in 12:57.13.

Bloemen adds the silver to the one he earned last week in the 5000m. The current world record holder in the 10,000m, he won silver in the distance at the 2016 World Single Distances Championships. Canada hasn’t won an Olympic medal in either the men’s 5000m or 10,000m since Lake Placid 1932.

Canada also reached the podium in the non-Olympic team sprints in Stavanger, with Gilmore Junio, Alex Boisvert-Lacroix and Vincent de Haitre taking gold in the men’s event and Marsha Hudey, Kaylin Irvine and Kali Christ claiming bronze in the women’s event.