Canadian women capture team pursuit gold at World Cup speed skating event

·2 min read

Canada captured gold in women's team pursuit at the ISU World Cup speed skating event in Heerenveen, Netherlands, on Friday.

The women's team of Isabelle Weidemann, Ivanie Blondin and Valerie Maltais had a strong start from the get-go. Halfway through the race, they were trailing Netherlands. After five laps, Canada took the lead and held on for the rest of the way, edging out Netherlands by 0.94 seconds. Norway finished third but was 3:58 seconds back of Canada. The Canadians also set a new track record with their official time two minutes 54.64 seconds.

WATCH | Canadian women set track record to win gold:

"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."

On the men's side, Canada also reached the podium in the team pursuit, taking silver earlier in the morning.

The Canadian team of Connor Howe, Ted-Jan Bloemen and Jordan Belchos had a bad start as for the first three laps, they sat in fifth place. In the second half of the race, however, they started to make their move and held onto second for the final four laps. They finished with a total time of 3:39.943 which was just 0.86 back of Norway who took home gold.

Russia finished third but was 1:46 back of Canada for second and 2:32 back of Norway.

WATCH | Canadian men take home silver in team pursuit:

"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."

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.