strikes gold at World Single Distance Championships
By Fred Sherwin
Blondin is on top of the world after winning her first
every world championship title on Sunday.
25-year-old veteran speedskater from Orléans outsprinted
four other competitors to the finish line to win the gold
medal in the mass start event at the World Single Distance
Championships in Kolomna, Russia.
gold medal skate was fueled by her second place finish
at last years world champion-ships and a disappointing
campaign on the World Cup circuit so far this season in
which she has failed to make it to the top step of the
Sundays race, Blondin stayed near the front of the
pack until Japanese skater Miho Takagi took the lead heading
into the final lap.
went with Takagi as they entered the first turn and then
tucked in behind her through the backstretch. She waited
until the final turn to make her move, passing the Japanese
skater on the inside coming out of the bend and then holding
off the competition for the win.
she crossed the finish line, an elated Bondin thrust her
hands into the air and immediately skated over to the
boards to hug coach Mark Wild as she wiped the tears from
later, the tears welled up again as Blondin stood on top
of the podium with the gold medal around her neck and
watched as the Canadian flag was raised to the rafters
accompanied by the strains of O Canada.
the medal ceremony, Blondin tried to describe how it felt
to be a world champion.
the best feeling. Im so excited. I dont even
know what to say. This race is just the cherry on top
of the cake, said Blondin.
been a long road for the Garneau high school alum who
very nearly gave up the sport in 2010 after several discouraging
years in the national short track program.
a conversation with Gloucester Concordes coach Mike Rivet
she decided to make the switch to long track. What followed
were several up and down years during which she struggled
with injuries before putting it all together during the
2013-2014 season to qualify for the Winter Olympics in
Socchi in the 3000, 5000-metres.
Olympic experience provided Blondin with some extra motivation
heading into the 2014-2015 season resulting in her first
two World Cup gold medals and the overall World Cup championship
in the mass start.
the IOC voted to add the mass start to the long track
program for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea
last summer, other skaters who had not competed in the
event before, suddenly started showing an interest and
the level of competition increased almost overnight.
into the World Championships, Blondin had two seconds
and two third place finishes in four World Cup events
this season, but no firsts.
last years World Championships in which she competed
in the 3000, 5000 and team pursuit before the mass start,
Blondin dropped the 5000 this year to conserve energy.
It turned out to be a gold medal-winning decision.
was my goal this season to be world champion in the mass
start. Finishing second last year gave me the motivation
this year to go get the title for Canada, for me, for
my coach and for my teammate Josie Spence," said
Blondin who will return to Calgary with the rest of the
national team to prepare for the World Allround Championships
in Berlin from March 5-6.
Berlin, Blondin will travel to Heerenveen, Netherlands
where she hopes to defend her World Cup title. She is
currently sitting in second place in the World Cup standings,
16 points behind Schouten.
win would clinch the title for Blondin, otherwise she
must finish at least two places higher than her Dutch
8 p.m., Feb. 14)
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