Canadian Olympic champion squad wins women's team pursuit gold at speed skating World Cup

Canada's Ivanie Blondin, left, Isabelle Weidemann, middle, and Valerie Maltais pose with their women's team pursuit gold medal earned on Saturday in the first ISU World Cup stop of the season in Norway. (speedskating.ca - image credit)
Canada's Ivanie Blondin, left, Isabelle Weidemann, middle, and Valerie Maltais pose with their women's team pursuit gold medal earned on Saturday in the first ISU World Cup stop of the season in Norway. (speedskating.ca - image credit)

It didn't take long for the Olympic gold medal-winning trio of Valerie Maltais, Isabelle Weidemann and Ivanie Blondin to get back on top of the podium.

The Canadian squad claimed the top spot in the women's team pursuit event at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Saturday in Stavanger, Norway — the first of six World Cup events scheduled for the season.

Weidemann and Blondin, both from Ottawa, and Maltais of Saguenay, Que., posted a time of three minutes 01.810 seconds to edge the Dutch team by 0.48 seconds. Japan earned bronze finishing 1.09 seconds behind Canada.

"We haven't been training together as much for the team pursuit, so we were all a bit nervous going into the race," said Blondin. "But it's like we haven't skipped a beat and it was really nice to get back together and show what we can do. It wasn't a clean race, but it's a great result and now we'll keep building for the next one."

WATCH l Blondin, Maltais, Weidemann race to women's team pursuit gold:

In February, the trio grabbed Canada's 1st-ever Olympic gold in team pursuit with an Olympic record time of 2:53.44.

They also claimed three gold medals last World Cup season.

The 32-year-old Blondin narrowly missed the podium in the 1500-metre event earlier on Saturday, finishing 0.06 seconds behind third-place Marijke Groenewoud of the Netherlands.

World record-holder Miho Takagi of Japan won the event.

The team pursuit gold marks the second medal of the season for Ottawa, Ont., native Weidemann, who won bronze in the women's 3000-metre event on Friday.

Blondin, who also hails from Ottawa, and Maltais of Saguenay, Que., also secured top-10 finishes in the event.

Dubreuil wins silver

Quebec City's Laurent Dubreuil started his season with a strong performance.

The 30-year-old, who finished the 2021/22 World Cup circuit as the world champion in the 500m discipline and won 10 medals over 12 races, overcame a slower opening split to secure the silver medal in the men's 500m with a time of 34.750.

Dubreuil finishing just 0.05 behind gold medallist Yuma Murakami of Japan. South Korea's Jun-Ho Kim rounded out the podium.

"I am obviously happy to start the season with a podium. It's clear that I would have preferred the gold medal, especially being only five hundredths of a second off the pace and way ahead of bronze. It was really a two-person battle with Yuma [Murakami]," said Dubreuil.

"I wasn't far, but when he opens with a 9.44 and I do 9.74, it's very hard to then catch up three tenths of a second in the full lap. My start needs to be more explosive so I can get off the line faster. But this is a great start to to the season."

WATCH | Dubreuil skates to silver medal:

Christopher Fiola, also from Quebec City, finished seventh in the 500m on Saturday.

Graeme Fish was the lone top 10-finisher for Canada in the men's 5000m. The Moose Jaw, Sask., native crossed the finish line with a time of 6:31.263 to take 10th place.