Gilmore Junio top Canadian at speed skating World Cup in the Netherlands
Calgary's Gilmore Junio was the top Canadian at a long-track speed skating World Cup event on Saturday in Heerenveen, Netherlands, earning a 10th-place finish in the men's 500 metres.
Junio posted a time of 34.822 seconds, improving upon his times from the Division B races at last weekend's World Cup in Poland, where her finished second (35.587) and sixth (35.564).
"Today's race was a massive relief," said Junio. "After coming back to training late and struggling early in the fall, crossing the line and seeing a season's best and one of my fastest times in the Thialf was an awesome feeling.
"I still have a lot of work to do to get back to competing with the fastest guys, but today's result validates I'm taking steps in the right direction."
Teammate Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que. finished the same race in 35.029 seconds, good for 18th.
Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin was disqualified from the women's mass start, despite putting forth a result that would have also earned her a top 10 spot.
She made contact with Korean skater Bo-Reum Kim, who was attempting an inside pass on the final turn. It was a disappointing result for Blondin given that she earned two sprint points in the race and crossed the line in a top 10 position. The result bumped her from third to seventh in the overall World Cup rankings, where she currently has 236 points.
Toronto's Jordan Blechos skated to an 11th place finish in the men's mass start, posting a time of 8:14.570 and earning one sprint point. He now sits just outside of the top 10 in overall rankings, in eleventh position with 231 points.
Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que. and Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa both failed to qualify for their respective mass start finals based on their semi-final results on Friday.
A trio of Canadian women were grouped near the middle of the standing in the women's 500 metres, with Winnipeg's Heather McLean in 13th (38.287), Marsha Hudey of White City, Sask. in 14th (38.386) and Calgary's Kaylin Irvine in 16th (38.402).
In the 1500 metres, Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu of Sherbrooke, Que., picked the ice and fell a few strides into the start of his race. He recovered and finished, but his time of 1:48.708 was only fast enough for a 20th place result. Blondin finished in 15th position (1:57.149) in the women's race.
The results in Division B races on Saturday were highlighted by a podium finish and a personal best.
Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que. was the top skater in the men's 500 metres, earning a first-place finish with a time of 35.113. Meanwhile, Valerie Maltais of Saguenay, Que. posted a new personal best time of 1:58.815 in the women's 1,500 metres to finish fourth, an improvement on her seventh-place (2:02.229) result from last weekend.