HEERENVEEN, Netherlands — Canada's women's team pursuit squad opened the long-track speedskating World Cup season Friday with a bronze medal while Japan took gold in a world record time.
Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa, Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa and Josie Morrison of Kamloops, B.C., took third place in three minutes 0.65 seconds. Japan clocked in at 2:55.77, besting the mark of 2:55.79 that had been set by Canadians Kristina Groves, Christine Nesbitt and Brittany Schussler in December 2009 in Calgary.
The Netherlands took silver in 2:59.06.
"We've worked really hard this summer building the bond between us and I think that paid off today," said Blondin. "There was a lot of trust out there, which is really important in this event."
On the men's side, Canadian team pursuit skaters Ted-Jan Bloemen of Calgary, Jordan Belchos of Markham, Ont., and Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., took fourth place in 3:43.48. They finished behind South Korea (3:40.20), Norway (3:41.48) and New Zealand (3:42.22).
"I think it's safe to say that as a team, we aren't satisfied with the race today," said Morrison. "We executed the plan that we set out to do, but a few mistakes early in the race cost us towards the end. We've trained to break world records and are strong enough to be on the podium. Our expectations are greater than our performance today demonstrated."
In individual events, Calgary's Gilmore Junio skated to 10th place in 35.04 seconds in the men's 500 A final, 0.35 seconds away from winner Havard Holmefjord Lorentzen of Norway, to earn the right to stay in group A. Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., was third in the B final while William Dutton of Humboldt, Sask., was fourth. Both move up to group A in Saturday's second 500 race.
Blondin finished fourth in her mass start semifinal while fellow Canadians Olivier Jean and Keri Morrison also advanced to Saturday's finals.
The Canadian Press