Canadian speed skaters earn 7 long track medals at season-opening World Cup

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Canada's Laurent Dubreuil reached the speed skating World Cup podium for the second time in three days with Sunday's silver-medal performance in the men's 500 metres at the long track season opener in Poland. (Vincent Jannink/ANP/AFP via Getty Images/File - image credit)
Canada's Laurent Dubreuil reached the speed skating World Cup podium for the second time in three days with Sunday's silver-medal performance in the men's 500 metres at the long track season opener in Poland. (Vincent Jannink/ANP/AFP via Getty Images/File - image credit)

Laurent Dubreuil and Ivanie Blondin wrapped up action at the long track season-opening World Cup with silver medals and later watched fellow Canadians Ted-Jan Bloeman, Jordan Belchos and Connor Howe follow suit in men's team pursuit on Sunday.

One of the most dominant sprinters on the international speed skating scene, Dubreuil of Lévis, Que., won his second 500-metre medal in three days and fifth overall medal for Canada in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland.

On Friday, the 29-year-old reigning world champion picked up bronze after twice reaching the podium, including a gold medal performance, in February at the world championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

"I am very happy with my day today and my first World Cup overall. To be on the podium two times in two 500 races is not easy with the depth of this field," Dubreuil said in a Speed Skating Canada news release of his fifth consecutive podium finish at the distance on the international stage.

WATCH | Dubreuil skates to silver in men's 500 metres:

He crossed the finish line in 34.734 seconds in Sunday's competition won by Tatsuya Shinhama in 34.699, while Japanese teammate Wataru Morishige collected bronze (34.746).

Fellow Canadians Gilmore Junio (35.278) and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (35.565) placed 18th and 20th, respectively.

Later, Dubreuil finished fifth in the men's 1,000. The Dutch trio of Hein Otterspeer (1:08.676), Thomas Krol (1:08.699) and Kjeld Nuis (1:08.836) swept the podium.

"To be capable of achieving a fifth-place finish only an hour and a half after my 500 tells me that my training is working," Dubreuil said. "I will need to be equally sharp next week if I want to continue winning medals."

Jostling for position

Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu of Sherbrooke, Que., was ninth in 1:09.460, followed by Ottawa's Vincent De Haitre in 14th (1:10.167).

Blondin of Ottawa was second in women's mass start in eight minutes 25.490 seconds. Irene Schouten of the Netherlands clocked a winning time of 8:25.210 while Francesca Lollobrigida of Italy was third in 8:25.650.

Blondin spent most of the race jostling for position towards the front of the main pack. With three laps remaining, her teammate Valérie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., broke from the field to increase the pace but was unable to hang on in the final stretch.

In a sprint towards the finish on the last lap, Blondin outpaced Lollobrigida while Schouten maintained her lead through the final 400 metres.

WATCH | Blondin 2nd in women's mass start:

"The mass start went really well. Today was a very tough day physically with three races, but I'm glad I pulled through and made it happen in the end," said Blondin. "There was lots of action going on in the middle of the race and I had to fight to keep in a good position. But that's where I'm at my best, so I was right in my element.

"I made a few mistakes in the final lap, but in the end I am happy with silver and my ability to keep the fire alive."

Late lead

Blondin was also 11th in the women's 1,500 a day after teaming with Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann in team pursuit for Canada's first gold medal of the long track season. She clocked one minute 58.624 seconds, 2.62 seconds behind winner Miho Takagi of Japan (1.56.000) who owns the world record of 1:49.83.

Ottawa's Weidemann and Calgary's Bloemen also won silver in the 3,000 and 5,000 to contribute to Canada's medal haul.

In men's team pursuit, Bloemen, Belchos and Howe made Canada's seventh trip to the medal podium after stopping the clock in three minutes 45.763 seconds, trailing only Sven Kramer, Patrick Roest and Marcel Bosker of the Netherlands (3:44.567).

The Canadians led by more than two seconds entering the the final two laps but lost steam.

WATCH | Canada wins World Cup silver in men's team pursuit:

There are four World Cup stops that will help shape the Canadian squad for the Beijing Olympics in February, including Calgary on Dec. 9.

Next up is Stavanger, Norway starting Friday, with the World Cup season concluding March 12 in Heerenveen.

WATCH | Day 3 of the ISU World Cup in Poland:

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