Speed ​​skating: Gold for Canada in women’s team pursuit

STAVANGER, Norway — Canada won gold in the women’s team pursuit at the World Cup of speed skating on Saturday.

Valérie Maltais, Isabelle Weidemann and Ivanie Blondin won in 3:01.810, ahead of the Netherlands (3:02.298) and the Japanese (3:02.909).

The Canadian trio won three World Cup golds last season, in addition to triumphing at the Beijing Olympics.

“I feel relatively well but it is sure that we are after a big Olympic season, said Maltais. And I went through a lot of changes this summer, moving from Calgary to Quebec, with a new coach and a new centre.

“It takes a lot of adaptation. But there the sensations return, and it’s already much better than my results at the Canadian championships. I’m doing good races and that gives me more and more confidence.”

Maltais also painted a portrait of the most prominent nations in pursuit.

“One of the Japanese has retired since the Games, so it wasn’t quite the same team. Their new skater is 19 years old and it was her first international medal.

“It’s a bit the opposite of the exit of the last Olympic cycle, in 2018: before, it was us Canada who wanted to catch up with the Japanese but there, the steam turned in the direction where we now want to fight, catch up with us. It’s special but it’s also a privilege.”

“The Netherlands also have a new roster, Ireen Wust having retired,” said Maltais, adding that their new skater is the pursuit reserve in Beijing.

“Norway unfortunately had a collision at the start of the race but usually they are also quite close to us. This is the top 4 teams being the most to watch.

Blondin, of Ottawa, was fourth in the 1,500.

Weidemann, also from the federal capital, had won bronze in the 3,000m the day before.

Maltais, from Chicoutimi, will take part in the mass start on Sunday.

In the 500, reigning world champion Laurent Dubreuil of Lévis was second with a time of 34.750.

Gold went to Japanese Yuma Murakami (34.708), while South Korean Jun-Ho Kim completed the podium (35.017).

“I’m happy to start the season with a podium,” said Dubreuil. It was a two-man battle but when Yuma starts at 9.44 and I at 9.74, it’s very difficult to recover three tenths in the same lap.

“At each podium, even if there are things I would have liked to do better, it’s still a good performance, added the Quebecer.

“I feel in full control of my faculties. Physically and technically, I have all the tools to do well in every race.”

Dubreuil will be back in action tomorrow in the 1000m.

On Friday, Alberta’s Connor Howe won silver in the 1,500m.


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