Canada’s Valérie Maltais and Ivanie Blondin won silver and bronze in the mass start event to finish off the speedskating World Cup season in Poland.
It marked the first time in World Cup history that Canada had two skaters on the podium in the distance.
“I am very happy with this podium today in the mass start,” said Maltais. “My goal since the start of the season was to make a podium in this distance. I was close a few times, but never close enough.”
Maltais and Japan’s Momoka Horikawa broke away from the pack with eight laps remaining, and the duo swapped the lead five times before Horikawa crossed the finish line for her first career gold medal.
Horikawa narrowly defeated Maltais (8:58.56), who could not catch her in the final sprint.
“Today, I wanted to find the moment to break away and I’m happy that it worked out,” said Maltais. “Momoka, who followed me when I attacked, and I worked together once we pulled away from the rest of the pack.”
Blondin (9:03.51) finished the race roughly five seconds back in third, edging out Italy’s Laura Peveri (9:03.61) by only one-tenth of a second to grab the final podium position.
Maltais, 32, earned her first career individual distance World Cup medal with Sunday’s silver.
It was also her second career international mass start podium, having captured gold on home ice at the 2023 ISU Four Continents Championships in Quebec City last December.
The bronze medal helped Blondin, who is from Ottawa, secure the World Cup title, her 435 points narrowly edging out Dutch skater Marijke Groenewoud (424), who did not participate in the event this weekend, atop the leaderboard.
Maltais, from Saguenay, Que., finished sixth with 341 points.
Despite not reaching the podium on Sunday, Laurent Dubreuil was awarded his third World Cup trophy of the season. The native of Lévis, Que., finished second in the overall World Cup rankings of the 1,000 metres with 231 points, the same ranking he earned as part of the team sprint on Friday. The 30-year-old was also the top skater on 500m this season, winning the overall title by 30 points on Saturday.
The Canadian long track team finish the World Cup season with an impressive 30 medals, including eight gold, 14 silver and eight bronze across six events.
Dubreuil and Blondin were crowned World Cup champions in the 500m and mass start, respectively. Meanwhile, Dubreuil (1000m), Isabelle Weidemann (3000m/5000m) and Connor Howe (1500m) each finished second overall in their distance rankings. Additionally, the women’s team pursuit finished first overall, while both the men’s and women’s team sprint were second.
The Canadian Press