Canada strikes gold in both women's, men's team sprints at speed skating worlds
Ivanie Blondin, Carolina Hiller and Brooklyn McDougall combined to win the women's team sprint event at the ISU World Speed Skating Championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands on Thursday, setting the stage for the men's team to do the same shortly after.
The Canadian women set the pace with a blazing time of one minute and 26.29 seconds, which the silver-medal winning American team couldn't match, finishing 0.28 seconds behind.
The Chinese team won bronze with a time of 1:27.86.
Prince George, B.C., native Hiller and Calgary's McDougall put Blondin in a position to bring home the gold as the anchor, and the 2022 Olympic gold medallist did not disappoint.
WATCH | McDougall, Hiller, Blondin claim women's team sprint title:
With the win, the trio adds world championship gold to the three World Cup silver medals they captured earlier this season. It's Canada's second world championship podium in the women's team sprint, having won silver back in 2019.
"Becoming world champion with Carolina and Ivanie is incredibly special. We were so consistent all season, finishing second each World Cup. Upgrading to gold at the world championships was perfect! I will never forget this feeling with these girls," McDougall said.
Shortly after the trio celebrated on the ice, the men's team — comprised of Lévis, Que., native Laurent Dubreuil, Montreal's Christopher Fiola, and Sherbrooke, Que., native Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu — did the same.
The Canadians won gold with a time of 1:19.26, while the host Netherlands team finished 0.41 seconds behind. Norway also broke the 1:20 barrier to win bronze.
WATCH | Fiola, Dubreuil, Gélinas-Beaulieu win men's team sprint:
The Canadian men's trio — which last skated together at the World Cup in Calgary in December — overcame a bit of a sloppy start to claim the top spot. Sitting third after the opening lap, Gélinas-Beaulieu caught up to his teammates and put forth a tremendous solo lap as the men secured gold.
"Today's performance was exceptional. It's a great feeling to see your teammates give themselves body and soul, one after another, to finally give way to you," Gélinas-Beaulieu said. "Being a world champion in the team sprint is even more fun because I can share it with others. It's a race we'll remember for the rest of our lives."
The team sprint isn't yet a part of the Olympic Games program.
Earlier in the day, Valerie Maltais skated to a career-best fifth-place finish in the women's 3,000 metres.
The Saguenay, Que., native finished with a time of 3:59.88, which was 3.02 seconds behind gold-medal winner Ragne Wiklund of Norway.
Irene Schouten secured the silver medal in front of a home crowd, racing to a time of 3:57.40, while Martina Sáblíková of the Czech Republic took bronze with a 3:58.35 finish.
The Ottawa pair of Isabelle Weidemann and Blondin capped the event in an all-Canadian matchup, with Weidemann finishing sixth with a time of 4:01.32, and Blondin taking ninth with a time of 4:05.44.
Later in the men's 5,000m, Moose Jaw, Sask., native Graeme Fish placed 13th with a time of 6:26.17.
WATCH | McDougall, Hiller, Blondin receive team sprint gold medals:
Patrick Roest of the Netherlands took home gold with a time of 6:08.94, finishing 2.18 seconds ahead of silver medallist Davide Ghiotto of Italy.
Belgium's Bart Swings won bronze with a time of 6:13.06.
Jordan Belchos of Scarborough, Ont., and Calgary's Ted-Jan Bloemen finished 17th and 18th, respectively.
The world championships continue Friday through to Sunday from the Netherlands.
Watch Canadian athletes go for gold, streaming live on CBCSports.ca, CBC Gem and the free CBC Sports app.
WATCH | Team sprint gold medals presented to Fiola, Dubreuil, Gélinas-Beaulieu: