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(Posted 2:30 p.m., Dec. 11)
Speedskating trio qualify for Winter Olympics

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

A pair of local speed skaters are heading back to the Olympics where they will be joined by an Olympic rookie from Orléans after all three athletes met the pre-Olympic qualifying standards during the first four events of the World Cup season.

Ivanie Blondin, Vincent de Häitre and Isabelle Weidemann will get to share the Olympic experience together thanks to their results in the final World Cup event in Salt Lake City on the weekend.

Blondin managed to qualify in her specialty, the mass start as well as the 3000, 5000 and team pursuit events. De Häitre did the same in the 1000 metres and Weidemann will join Blondin on the women’s pursuit team.

Blondin qualified for the Mass Start by virtue of her sixth place finish in the event in Salt Lake City which placed her sixth overall in the World Cup standings. The top 16 all prequalified for the Mass Start in Pyeongchang.

Blondin also finished fourth in the 3000 metres in Salt Lake City, placing her fourth in the overall standings and inside the top five who all met the prequalification standard for the Olympics.

Blondin qualified for the 5000 metres earlier in the season when she added a silver medal over the distance in Stavanger, Norway, to the bronze medal she won at the World Single Distance Championships last year.

Her spot on the women’s pursuit team was solidified on Saturday when she and Weidemann were joined by Keri Morrison from Burlington in placing fifth in the event and third in the overall standings.

Weidemann should also qualify for the Olympics in the 5000 metres as long as she finishes in the top two in the event at the Canadian Long Track Team Selections being held Jan. 4-9 in Calgary.

De Häitre is as close to a shoe-in to make the Olympic team as you can get. His naming to the squad should be little more than a formality after placing third in the overall World Cup standings in the 1000 metre and seventh in the 1500 metres, just five points out of the top five.

The Cumberland resident is an Olympic medal hopeful by virtue of his silver medal performance in the 1000 metres at the World Single Distance Championships last year, where he also placed fourth in the 1500.

Blondin and de Häitre are both eager to get back to the Olympics where they will seek to improve on their rookie performances four years ago in Socchi.

Blondin finished a disappointing 24th in the 3000 metres and 14th in the 5000. De Häitre fared even worse, placing 20th in the 1000 metres and 33rd in the 1500.

Both skaters are four years older and have a number of recent successes they can draw upon as the skate for gold, silver and bronze in Pyeongchang.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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