'Bittersweet' gold for Canada in women's team pursuit at speedskating worlds

HEERENVEEN, Netherlands — Canadian speedskaters Isabelle Weidemann, Ivanie Blondin and Valérie Maltais claimed the world title in women's team pursuit on Friday after the Dutch team was disqualified due to a technicality.

The hometown favourite trio of Joy Beune, Irene Schouten, Marijke Groenewoud crossed the line first, but were penalized for having bare skin showing during the race.

The International Skating Union's rules for mass start and team speedskating events state that no part of the body, except for the face, should be uncovered at any part of the race for safety reasons.

Ottawa's Weidemann and Blondin and Maltais, from Saguenay, Que., were elevated to the gold-medal position after crossing the line second in two minutes 54.58 seconds.

Japan (+2.72 seconds) and the United States (+5.81 seconds) rounded out the podium.

The world championship title was the only one the Canadian trio was missing after winning gold at the Beijing Olympics then putting together eight consecutive World Cup gold medals and four consecutive World Cup titles since the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

The trio had won silver at the 2021 world championships and bronze at the 2020 worlds.

"Today's race was definitely not a bad race for us, but it was a little bit of a bittersweet win since the Dutch team was DQ’d," Blondin said. "I think it’ll be back to the drawing board for our team next season, that’s for sure."

The men’s team of Connor Howe (Canmore, Alta.), Hayden Mayeur (Toronto) and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (Sherbrooke, Que.) also reached the podium on Friday with a silver medal.

The Canadians clocked in at 3:38.43 and occupied the top spot until the final pairing, where a tremendous skate from the Netherlands (3:38.26) knocked them down to second place, 0.17 seconds short of gold. Norway (+2.67) took bronze.

In individual distances, Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., took silver with a time of 34.46 seconds.

Eighteen-year-old American rookie Jordan Stolz (34.10) won gold and Japan’s Wataru Morishige (34.48) earned bronze.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2023.

The Canadian Press