This article was originally published on the Speed Skating Canada website.
Blondin, 6th, & Christ, 8th, Earn Best-Ever Ranking While Morrison Finished 7th At World Allround Long Track Speed Skating Championships
Ivanie Blondin and Kali Christ earned their best-ever overall ranking at the 2015 ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships, Sunday at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, taking the 6th and 8th positions while Denny Morrison took the 7th spot, finishing among the top-10 for the fifth time in as many tries in that competition.
Blondin (Ottawa, ON) and Christ (Regina, SK) respectively finished sixth and eighth in overall standings, as both skaters earned their best result in three career World Allround Championships so far. Blondin was 18th last year and 20th in 2011, while Christ was 10th last year and 12th in 2013.
“I see a trend there,” joked Christ, 23, alluding to the fact she has improved by two places each year. “But I'm happy with the fact that I was able to set personal bests in all four of my races over the weekend, although I still have things to improve on, here and there.”
Blondin's sixth-place finish is the best result by a Canadian female skater at the World Allround Championships since 2012, when Christine Nesbitt was third overall and Cindy Klassen was fifth. Blondin's and Christ's qualification for the 5000m race was also a first since 2012 for the Canadian women.
“I did better than I thought I was capable of. But I knew that by qualifying for the 5000m, which was my goal, I would be in a position to better my ranking because that's more my distance,” said Blondin, 24, who has broken through at the international level this season with six World Cup medals, five in the mass start and one in a 5000m race (a bronze), in addition to a silver medal in the mass start event at the recent World Single Distance Championships.
“It shows that there's a lot of potential on this Canadian team,” said Morrison of Blondin's and Christ's results this weekend. “We're still three years away from the next Olympics, several of our athletes took a year off this season and may come back next fall, so it bodes well for the future because that means that we'll have a team with a lot of depth going into 2018.”
Morrison seventh overall
Morrison (Fort St. John, B.C.) ended up seventh overall, to finish in the top-10 for the fifth time in as many participations in the World Allround Championships. The 29-year-old Olympic multimedalist was also seventh the last time he skated in this competition, in 2009. He was sixth in 2008, 10th in 2007 and fifth in 2006.
Morrison was the first Canadian male skater to finish among the top-10 overall since Lucas Makowsky in 2010 (9th).
“Seventh is a pretty standard finish for me at this competition,” noted Morrison. “Since I'm pretty good in the 500m and 1500m races, getting into the top-8 is pretty automatic for me. Skating in the 10 000m is a tough task in my case. It's a bit like asking Usain Bolt to run with marathoners in a 10 000m foot race!”
“Still, I'm satisfied with seventh place considering this is the first year after the Sochi Olympics. Mentally and physically, I'm leaps and bounds ahead of where I was the year after the 2010 Olympics”, added Morrison, whose victory in Saturday's 500m was Canada's first podium finish by a male skater since 2009 at the World Allround Championships.
Only the top eight male skaters and the first eight female athletes in overall standings after Sunday's 1500m races were invited to skate in the women's 5000m and men's 10 000m events, and go for the World Allround Championship title. The men started off the weekend with a 500m and a 5000m on Saturday, while the women raced in a 500m and a 3000m on day 1.
The Czech Republic's Martina Sablikova won the 5000m in six minutes and 51.21 seconds and earned first place in overall standings, and was therefore crowned World Allround Champion for the third time of her career. Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, who was third in the 5000m, finished second overall to give up the world title she had won over the previous four competitions.
On the men's side, Dutch skater Sven Kramer won the men's 10 000m race in 12:56.69 and was crowned World Allround Champion for the seventh time. He is now one world title away from matching Germany's Gunda Niemann, who won eight titles in the 1990s.
Blondin and Christ together in the 5000m
Blondin earned fifth place in Sunday's 5000m, with a time of 7:06.99, while Christ was eighth, albeit with a new personal best of 7:24.10. The two Canadians skated in the same pairing.
“I was happy to be with Kali, it brought a level of comfort that was good, I told myself that if something happened, she'd be right there with me,” said Blondin. “Personally, my goal was to be consistent from one lap to the next.”
“I knew Ivanie was going to be faster, because the 5000m is her distance and not mine, but it was a nice feeling that we did it together,” said Christ. “For my part, I just wanted to keep my laps flat.”
Morrison finished eighth in the men's 10 000m, with a time of 13:54.90. He qualified for that race after finishing fifth in the 1500m (1:44.35), one of his specialties (he won a bronze medal in that distance at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and finished second in the 1500m events raced at the 2007 and 2008 World Allround Championships). That result placed him fourth in overall standings after three races.
Christ and Blondin qualified for the women's 5000m after finishing fourth and 12th, respectively, in the women's 1500m, earning them fifth and seventh place in overall standings after three races. Christ and Blondin both came up with new personal bests in the 1500m, with times of 1:54.44 and 1:56.85, respectively.
“Just making it to the 5000m was a big deal to me, since the 1500m is my best distance and the 5000m, not as much,” stated Christ.
“Considering it was only the fourth time this season I was skating in a 1500m, it wasn't a bad time and it gave me an OK ranking,” commented Blondin. “Being paired with Ireen Wust was intimidating at first, but it ended up helping me. Even though she was skating fast and was in front of me, I knew that by keeping up with her, that would still give me a good time.”
“I reached my goal, since it allowed me to qualify for the 5000m.”
Bloemen makes amends
Although he did not qualify for the men's 10 000m, Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, AB) saw his competition end on a relatively good note, as the skater who specializes in the longer distances came close to a personal best in the 1500m. He skated Sunday's 1500m in 1:46.89, a little over a half-second away from the time of 1:46.36 he registered last October 23 in Calgary, to finish 17th in the race. He concluded the weekend in 16th place overall, the same rank he was in after Saturday's 5000m, a race in which he finished eighth, a disappointing result in his mind.
“I had trouble shaking off that 5K, but this morning I was able to skate better, and I started the process of trying to learn from that race and see the 1500m as a challenge to deal with in trying circumstances,” said Bloemen. “Things did go better, I'm happy with the way I recovered from Saturday's races. I will learn from this, and I will be better in the future.”
Bloemen was taking part in his first World Allround Championships with Canada after skating twice in that competition for the Netherlands, earning fourth place overall in 2010. He did appreciate skating in his new city of residence and in front of fans from his new home country.
“I really like competing here, I like it when the fans cheer me on like they did (this weekend). I'm just disappointed I couldn't give them better results,” said Bloemen.
The 2014-15 international long track speed skating season will conclude with the World Cup Finals, to be held March 21-22 in Erfurt, Germany.
More information can be found on Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.
TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
4. Kali Christ (1:54.44)
12. Ivanie Blondin (1:56.85)
5. Denny Morrison (1:44.35)
17. Ted-Jan Bloemen (1:46.89)
5. Ivanie Blondin (7:06.99)
8. Kali Christ (7:24.10)
8. Denny Morrison (13:54.90)
Final ranking – W
6. Ivanie Blondin
8. Kali Christ
Final ranking – M
7. Denny Morrison
16. Ted-Jan Bloemen