9:30 a.m., Feb. 24)
Local Olympic hopeful ends Winter Games on disappointing
By Fred Sherwin
native and Garneau high school alum, Ivanie Blondin, will
be returning home from the Winter Olympics next week without
the medal she was dearly hoping for, but with her head
held high nonetheless.
placing sixth in the 3000-metres, fifth in the 5000-metres
and fourth in the women's team pursuit, Blondin's last
shot at a medal came in the women's mass start final which
was held earlier this morning.
mass start event is new to the Winter Olympics after being
introduced on the World Cup circuit in 2011-2012. It is,
in fact, a hybrid of long track and short track disciplines.
Up to 16 skaters start the race in a pack and skate 15
laps to the finish line using a combination of athleticism,
skill and guile.
came into the event in PyeongChang with an impressive
resume, having won a gold medal at the 2016 World Single
Distance Championships and the overall World Cup title
while the mass start event is usually contested in a one
race, winner take all format, Olympic and ISU officials
decided to hold a pair of semi-finals to narrow the field
down to 16 skaters.
are two ways to advance to the final. The first is by
finishing in the top three. The second way is by picking
up points in the three sprint laps that are held on the
third, sixth and 13th laps.
skated in the second of the two semi-finals, after her
teammate Keri Morrison had already advanced through the
first semi-final by picking up a single sprint point on
the third lap which was good enough to put her in the
eighth and final qualifying position.
her race, Blondin was coming around the bend in first
place in a bid to pick up five points on the third lap
when she inexplicably stumbled while crossing over her
skates. As Blondin was falling, a Japanese skater appeared
to touch her hip in an attempt to steady herself, but
both skaters fell to the ice and crashed into the padding
along the boards.
still managed to pick up a point by sliding across the
sprint line in third place, but she was unable to rejoin
the pack and compete for one of the top three overall
spots which would have guaranteed her a spot in the final.
only hope was for her one point to hold up and get her
in the top eight, much the same as Morrison did. For that
to happen, all three of the top skaters would need to
be ahead of her in the standings. As it turned out two
of them were, but the third place skater was not. She
leaped-frogged Blondin, pushing her into ninth place and
out of the competition.
an interview after the semi-final, Blondin expressed her
was feeling really confident going into the race and I
think if it wasnít for the fall I would be going into
the final," Blondin said, "but I had a bit of
a slip and then the Japanese skater pushed my hips down
a tiny bit and I just lost balance and there was nothing
I could do at that point. I couldnít hold myself up. I
tried to get back up and finish the race but I was missing
a part of my blade so its a little hard to finish the
race without a blade. And it sucks for sure. Itís not
fun. It happens and it happened to me today."
for the future, Blondin says she will use her inability
to win a medal as motivation during the next Olympic cycle
leading up to the 2022 Games in Beijing, China.
donít think it's going to affect me in the future. Like
Iíve come back before, maybe not from such a great disappoint
like the Olympics, but Iíll just let it motivate me in
her obvious disappointment at not making the mass start
final, Blondin said she is still proud of her Olympic
not coming home with a medal, but I think finishing sixth,
fifth and fourth is something pretty great and something
I should be proud of."
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)