Who are Canada’s medal hopes at the Speed Skating World Cup?

Speed Skating World Cup
Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin celebrates after edging reigning Olympic champion Irene Schouten of the Netherlands by 0.11 seconds in the women's mass start with a time of eight minutes 14.70 seconds on Sunday at the World Cup stop near Salt Lake City. Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer-The Associated Press

Quebec City plays host to the final round of the ISU Speed Skating World Cup this weekend from February 2 until February 4. The event is almost 40 years old, with the Quebec event the final of the six rounds that make up the 2023-24 World Cup. 

It has not been the best season for the Canadian skaters, certainly not as good as the level of success that they enjoyed last year. The schedule was kind to them last time around with a pair of events in Calgary so being back on their home ice in Quebec for the final event should see them in a far better light.

There should be some interesting markets on the betting sites for those looking to have a bet on the speed skating this weekend and we hope that we can bring some good luck to the Canadian skaters in front of their home fans.

Canada’s past success in speed skating

When it comes to the Speed Skating World Cup, there is only one man who we can start with and that’s Jeremy Wotherspoon. The eight-time 500m champion, he also landed five crowns over 1000m to mark him down as the single most successful skater in the history of the competition. 

Wotherspoon, from Humboldt, Saskatchewan was never able to produce that same success in an Olympic games. He would win a silver medal in Nagano in 1998 but that was his sole medal on the biggest stage of them all. 

While none of the women have had the same level of success as the men, there have been four who have produced multiple winning performances across a World Cup season. Catriona Le May Doan, Cindy Klassen, Kristina Groves and Christine Nesbitt were all sensational on their day and have helped inspire the next generation of skaters. 

Unlike Wotherspoon, Le May Doan won a gold medal at two Winter Olympics in 1998 and 2002. Klassen won a gold in 2006 and Nesbitt in 2010. Groves was the only one of the four who would not get to the top step of the podium but she was a dual silver medalist in 2006 and 2010.

Current Canadian speed skating stars

The top men’s skater for Canada in the World Cup at present is Laurent Dubreuil. He has won the 500m title for the past two seasons but is coming up short in his bid for a hat-trick this time around. He will still pick up a medal of some description but he will no doubt be disappointed that it is not the colour that he really wants. 

Ivanie Blondin is the current star of the women’s team, winning the mass start World Cup three times in the last nine years. She still has a chance of winning a fourth this year, just three points off the leader in that category heading into Quebec. It is a relatively new event, only starting in the 2011/12 season. Three women have won this three times so she would set a new record with a 4th success. 

That mass start leader is Valerie Maltais who is a fellow Canadian and has yet to win an overall World Cup. The pair are teammates in the pursuit where they have already won the silver medal, winning gold as part of the team at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

That pursuit team have won seven titles, including the last four straight so they will have been a little disappointed to lose their crown to Japan this season and have to settle for a silver medal instead.

The 2023/24 season so far

There have been five rounds so far, starting in November in the Far East before moving across Europe and into North America. The events change slightly from one World Cup destination to the next but the main events are the 500m, 1000m, 1500m, and a long distance. The long distance is normally 3000m for women and 5000m for men but in Stavanger, they move up to 5000m and 10000m respectively. There are three events that have team pursuit and three that have a team sprint with two that have a mixed relay event for something a little different again.  

Obihiro, Japan

The 2023/24 Speed Skating World Cup started in Japan with the home skaters dominating in the men’s events. They would have a clean sweep of the podium in the first 500m event on day 1 before filling the top two spots in event two which was on day 3. Tatsuya Shinhama and Wataru Morishige would take a gold and a silver spot each in those contests.

Masaya Yamada would win gold in both the men’s 1000m and 1500m as the Canadian men struggled to pick up any points in the overall standings. The best finish was 4th for Canada by both Ted-Jan Bloemen in the 5000m and Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu in the mass start. 

There was a success for Ivanie Blondin in the women’s mass start event. The Ottawa native and 2022 Winter Olympics gold medalist has always been a specialist in these long-distance events and so it proved once more as she comfortably landed the most points in the contest.

Beijing, China

Round 2 of the Speed Skating World Cup was a more successful one for Team Canada, picking up four medals. Laurent Dubreuil picked up a silver in the second event of the men’s 500m but once more it was the women who made Canada proud, picking up their other three medals.

Blondin was only able to pick up a silver in the mass start to go with her gold from Japan but she also picked up another medal of the same colour in the team sprint event. The mass start saw a pair on the podium with Valerie Maltais on the third step with a bronze medal.

Stavanger, Norway

Into Europe for round 3 and no surprise that here the Netherlands got plenty of medals on the board. Three medals came back with Canadian athletes with Boemen getting himself on the podium in the 1000m. Dubreuil continued to disappoint in his defence of the 500m crown that he won in the 2022-23 season, finishing 6th and 18th in the two races.

Two medals for the women came from Maltais picking up a silver in the mass start and the team sprint added a bronze to their silver from China. The mass start was a dramatic affair that saw 10 of the 16 starters disqualified! 

Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland

Laurent Dubreuil finally came to play in Poland, finishing second in the first of the two men’s 500m events and then winning the second. He and Gao Tingyu split the decisions with 0.07 of a second separating them in the first contest and 0.06 in the second. Those narrow margins are why it is such an exciting sport to watch, even for those who have never done so before, each man on the ice against the clock.

The women won a pair of silver medals as Ivanie Blondin got back on the podium in the mass start race while the team pursuit also landed a medal. That team event has been strong for Canada in this Speed Skating World Cup season which is no surprise given the pedigree they have in the event.

Salt Lake City, United States

The most recent event took place just last weekend in Salt Lake City. Home ice proved to be a great benefit for the USA with Jordan Stolz enjoying a monster weekend. Stolz won the 500m, both 1000m races as well as the 1500m. Just 19 years old, he is a future star in the sport for the US. Dubreuil was runner-up to Stolz in the 500m to add some more points to his total.

It was further success for the women’s team pursuit, picking up gold on this occasion as they continued to clock up the medals in this event. Maltais added a bronze to her seasonal haul in the women’s 3000m. 

Blondin and Maltais continued their success in the mass start, picking up the gold and bronze medals respectively to produce a good haul back on North American soil. That should set them up perfectly for the World Cup in Quebec to finish the season on a high.

So in the five events so far, Canada has picked up four gold, 10 silver and five bronze for a total of 19 which has them sitting in 5th place in the medal table. It is a step down from the eight gold, 14 silver and eight bronze that Team Canada produced in the 2022-23 Speed Skating World Cup when two of the rounds were held in Canada. They have Quebec to pad out those totals though.

Men’s medals after Quebec?

As things stand after five of the six events, the men’s team are in line for a pair of medals. Laurent Dubreuil is in second place in the 500m as he bids to find the points to land the event for a third straight season. 

He is 37 points behind Japan’s Wataru Morishige and with 60 points available for the win and 23 for finishing 18th, Dubreuil needs Morishige either to not turn up or fail to complete the 500m course if he is to land another Grand World Cup success.

The other medal that looks just about locked in heading into the final week is Ted-Jan Bloemen in the long distance. Heading to Ottawa, Bloemen is sitting in the bronze medal position with a cushion of 34 points over Michele Malfatti who is in 4th. At the age of 37, Bloemen is at the tail end of his career but the 2018 Winter Olympics gold medalist over 10,000m clearly still has some life left in his legs.

Women’s end of World Cup medal hopes

With five of the six rounds in the bag, all eyes turn to Quebec and the final round. There are still plenty of chances of end-of-season medals in the women’s team who have been outperforming the men all season.

Valerie Maltais has been the star this year for Team Canada and looks set to pick up three medals at the end of the World Cup season. She is in the bronze medal position in the long distance as well as is part of the Team Pursuit squad who have clinched a silver medal. There is no team pursuit in Quebec, they have the team sprint instead so that is one medal guaranteed. 

There is a strong chance of a gold in the mass start for Maltais She is sitting in that position ahead of Quebec with her teammate Ivanie Blondin in second. Blondin beat Maltais in Salt Lake City and with only three points separating them, the women’s mass start has the potential to be the race of the weekend.

Other medal winners

LeoVegas Free Bet

Away from the Canadian athletes, Ning Zhongyan from China is leading in both the men’s 1000m and 1500m. The aforementioned Jordan Stolz is chasing him down in both and having won each of these events at the most recent World Cup meeting in Salt Lake City, the gaps are down to 16 and 10 points respectively. Zhongyan is still the hot favourite to take the two gold medals but the era of Stolz could be just beginning. 

Kimi Goetz has a chance at a triple medal haul in the women’s events. She leads the way in the 1000m with plenty of gap to the second to think that unless something goes horribly wrong, the American has that wrapped up. She is third in the 500m, with a gap of 49 points to the 4th so although it is mathematically possible for her to lose that medal, it would take a disaster for her to do so. She is sat in 4th herself in the 1500m with a gap of 16 points to close to if she is to claim a medal in all three. 

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