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Canada’s assortment of lengthy monitor velocity skaters is likely to be as robust as ever, with legit medal contenders throughout a number of disciplines.
They’ll be put to the take a look at on the world championships, which start Thursday within the Netherlands. Live protection of the occasion via Sunday might be accessible on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
Here’s every part it’s essential to know:
Isabelle Weidemann, Ivanie Blondin and Valerie Maltais may type probably the most dominant workforce in Canada proper now. The reigning Olympic workforce pursuit champions are unbeaten in three races this season, a feat in addition they achieved throughout the 2022 World Cup marketing campaign. But one other victory at worlds is much from assured: the Netherlands positioned second within the season-long standings with a pair of silvers, and Japan, which was third, crashed out of the Olympic remaining whereas holding a lead within the remaining lap.
Weidemann was Canada’s flag-bearer on the closing ceremony in Beijing after gathering a medal of every color. Now 27, the Ottawa native appeared prime for World Cup dominance. But it hasn’t fairly performed out that approach, at the least in particular person occasions, with Weidemann climbing simply two podiums all season, in every of her first two races. Even nonetheless, a constant season left Weidemann ranked second general in lengthy distances. In case you missed it, we coated Weidemann in yesterday’s e-newsletter after she helped a youthful velocity skating Isabelle seize 4 medals on the Canada Games.
Blondin’s greatest occasion is the chaotic mass begin, wherein she completed worse than sixth simply as soon as all season and wound up main the general standings. You’ll seemingly see Blondin, who received mass-start silver on the Olympics, work alongside Maltais all through the race, with the latter setting an early tempo earlier than the previous makes her transfer within the remaining laps. Blondin and Maltais additionally positioned fourth and sixth, respectively, within the general lengthy distance standings.
Internationally, Dutch skater Irene Schouten is one to look at. Schouten, 30, received 4 medals, together with three gold, on the Olympics. But she’s since admitted to psychological and bodily exhaustion stemming each from the buildup to Beijing and the eye she obtained after. Following a sometimes dominant begin to the season, Schouten did not lace up her skates at both World Cup occasion in 2023.
On the opposite hand, Quebec’s Laurent Dubreuil has been cautious to handle expectations all through his profession. After lacking the Olympic 500m podium by 3/100ths of a second regardless of being a favorite within the distance, Dubreuil took a bigger-picture view: “I used to be blissful in life yesterday and I did not have an Olympic medal so the state of affairs for me is identical.” He maintained that perspective when he bounced again with silver within the 1,000m days later.
Dubreuil will compete in each distances at worlds, the place he may line up subsequent to good buddy Yuma Murakami of Japan. The two educated collectively for seven weeks in Quebec over the summer season, constructing on a bond that’d been paused because of the pandemic. “You can break up my summer season in two: earlier than Yuma arrived it was dangerous and after it was good,” Dubreuil mentioned. Dubreuil and Murakami are ranked 1-2 within the 500m, whereas the Canadian can also be second within the 1,000m.
Meanwhile, Connor Howe of Canmore, Alta., is the comparatively new child on the block at 22 and with out an Olympic medal. But Howe ranks second within the 1,500m — often known as “the king of races” — and he received gold on the Heerenveen monitor in November. His function at worlds might be that of spoiler as he competes towards 18-year-old American wunderkind Jordan Stolz and two-time reigning Olympic champion Kjeld Nuis of the Netherlands.
Worlds can even be a homecoming of types for Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen, the two-time Olympic medallist who at 36 seems to have misplaced a step or two and now not poses a significant podium menace. Bloemen initially competed for the Netherlands, the place he was born, earlier than switching allegiances to Canada to flee the heavy inner competitors of his delivery nation.