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(Posted 11:30 a.m., Feb. 2)
Orléans speed skater earns spot in the record books
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Orléans native Ivanie Blondin placed second at the Canadian Junior Long Track Speed Skating Championships in Richmond, B.C. on the weekend. File photo by Yves Longpré


Orléans speed skater Ivanie Blondin made history on the weekend becoming the first female competitor to make both the World Junior short track and long track teams in the same season.

The short track specialist went into the Canadian Junior Long Track Championships in Richmond, B.C. as an unknown entity having never competed on the larger oval in her life.

After placing sixth in the 500 metres on Friday, she surprised everybody including herself by finishing second in the 1500 metres. She then went out and blew away the field in the 3000 metres on Saturday, winning in a time of 4:26.38.

On Sunday, Blondin capped off the meet with a third place finish in the 1000 meters. Contacted by cell phone late Sunday night, Blondin could barely contain her glee at having made the World Junior team.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so excited it's ridiculous. I can't stop smiling," said Blondin who competed after suffering a concussion in a fall during the Canadian Senior Short Track Championships two weeks ago. She is also battling a mild case of bronchitis and had to skate in her short track boots using long track blades.

Blondin decided to enter the long track championships on a whim after talking to fellow short track specialist Guillaume Blais-Dufour who also made history by becoming the first male to make both World Junior teams.

"I think the fact that I didn't have any pressure on me really helped. I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience," said Blondin who will be joining the rest of the World Junior team in Calgary this week before heading off to the North American Championships on the weekend.

She then plans to fly back to Montreal for some light training before jetting off to Zakopane, Poland for the World Junior Long Track Championships on
Feb. 20-22.

Blondin placed eighth overall at the World Junior Short Track Championships in Sherbrooke last month and helped Team Canada win a silver medal in the 3000 metre relay.

Two weeks later she finished in 11th place at the Canadian Senior Short Track Championships in Montreal. She very nearly won the gold medal in the 1500 metres at the event, but was disqualified in the final when she lost an edge while trying to overtake the leader heading into the last lap.

Blondin believes the mental toughness that comes with having to compete at close quarters in short track helped her in Richmond, as did the trait for short track speed skaters to aggressively attack the turns.

"I think being a short track skater helped, many people mentioned that my cornering was very aggressive and fast. In short track, you have no choice but to be speedy in the turns," said Blondin. "And in short track you have to be strong mentally because of the contact. In long track there's no one in your way and no one to bump you. It's a piece of cake (comparatively)."

Despite her success on the weekend, Blondin said she plans to continue to concentrate on short track as her career moves forward.

"I know I'm a short-tracker. I love the competitive side of it and the bumping. I've been a short-tracker all my life," she said.

(Posted 11:30 a.m., Feb. 2)

 

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