Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais and Laurent Dubreuil reached the podium at the Beijing stage of the Long Track Speed Skating World Cup on Saturday.
The Canadian team captured three individual medals, its best single-day haul so far this season.
In the mass start, Blondin d’Ottawa and Maltais de La Baie earned silver and bronze, respectively.
It was only the second time in World Cup history that Canada saw two women’s athletes reach the podium in this discipline.
The first occasion came last season in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland.
Dutchwoman Marijke Groenewoud broke away midway through the 16-lap race and cruised to an easy victory in 8:24.71.
Blondin (8:37.58) and Maltais (8:37.74) controlled the pace of the chasing group until the final sprint.
The bronze was Maltais’ second individual medal at the World Cup, following silver last season in Poland.
“I surprised myself by being able to sprint well at the end,” Maltais said. I think what allowed me to do it was a bit of a change of strategy in the racing world.
“When the Dutchwoman, Marijke, left to make her attack, there was no one who wanted to follow her or really close the gap, so it came down to the peloton. My job was to try to hide as much as possible and see if the legs were going to be good for the end. »
For Blondin, it was a return to the podium at the Ruban de glace, where she earned Olympic silver in the mass start in 2022.
“I’m really happy, considering I was very sick on Thursday,” said Blondin. It’s been a little tough but I’m just trying to stay positive and get through the weekend, do as much as I can with the energy I have left in the tank. »
“We had an excellent strategy. We knew, when we started the race, that the Dutch were going to attack simultaneously. I said I would keep up an attack at first but afterwards I knew I would have to conserve my energy if I wanted to make it to the finish line.
She was also happy to be accompanied by a teammate in the top 3.
“When I saw that Val had finished third, I shook my fist in the air a little. It’s nice to be on the podium with teammates. It’s rare, but I’m sure it will happen again in the future. »
Dubreuil, of Lévis, took silver in the 500m-2 with a time of 34.81, just 0.12 seconds behind gold medalist Wataru Morishige of Japan (34.69). Another Japanese skater, Yuma Murakami, finished third (34.82).
Dubreuil’s silver medal shows that he is progressing at a good pace after having, by his own admission, had a slow start to the season.
He finished sixth twice and seventh in his first three races.
“I finally had a good race,” commented Dubreuil. It was my fastest start this season, by a lot. I was paired with Morishige, who is absolutely the best in the world at the moment in the 500m, and I was in the mix.
“I was just 12 hundredths behind and, in the final stretch, I felt like I was getting a little closer. It wasn’t a perfect race, I made a few small mistakes, but I was skating well overall and in the end the technique was good and my pushes were applied. »
Dubreuil is fourth in the cumulative World Cup standings with 166 points, behind Morishige, Murakami and Tatsuya Shinhama, also of Japan.
The Beijing World Cup will end on Sunday with the women’s 500m-2, 3000m and team sprint events, as well as the men’s 1000m and mass start races.