STAVANGER, Norway — Ivanie Blondin led the way as the Canadian long track speed skating team won four medals on Sunday — the last day of the second stage of the ISU World Cup season.
Blondin grabbed silver in the women's 5,000 metres and has unofficially pre-qualified for the Olympic Games in that distance with a time of six minutes 57.34.
The Ottawa native entered the event in a position to pre-qualify directly for the Olympics in the 5,000 if she won a medal at one of the four World Cups this fall, which she successfully completed on Sunday.
"I haven't been that much focused on pre-qualifying. In fact, I had completely forgot about it until I saw (national team coach) Bart (Schouten) after the race and he reminded me," said Blondin. "In the moment, I had a surge of emotion overcome me and I started to cry. It's such a great feeling."
"Before that, I was taking it day by day, training by training and race by race, and that helped me accomplish what I needed to do today to pre-qualify," added Blondin. "Somehow it's all coming together, I felt really good out there on the ice. In fact, it's been the case all week, the ice felt fast for me."
Blondin's spot at the Pyeongchang Games will become official as long as Canada qualifies at least two spots in this distance.
Germany's Claudia Pechstein won gold in 6:56.60.
Also on Sunday, Ted-Jan Bloemen came up with silver in the men's 10,000, the men's team sprint won gold with a new world record, and the women's team sprint claimed bronze.
Calgary's Bloemen skated the 10,000 in a time of 12:52.64, behind Dutch skater Sven Kramer (12:50.97), and ahead of Erik-Jan Kooiman of the Netherlands (12:57.13).
Alex Boisvert-Lacroix of Sherbrooke, Que., Calgary's Gilmore Junio and Vincent De Haitre of Cumberland, Ont., skated to victory with a new world-record time in the men's team sprint in 1:19.52, ahead of Norway (1:19.84) and the United States (1:20.58).
"I was really tense before the race," said Boisvert-Lacroix, who was skating in the team sprint event for the first time. "I was afraid I'd be a burden to the team, and I wanted to do well for the guys who were on the bench after skating last weekend.
"But it went better, and it was easier that I thought it would be. We'll see if I skate on the team again in two weeks in Calgary, but I'm confident that no matter who is on the team, we will set another world record at the Olympic Oval because the ice is so fast."
Marsha Hudey of White City, Sask., Regina's Kali Christ and Calgary's Kaylin Irvine skated to a time of 1:28.85 on its way to bronze in the women's team sprint, finishing less than a second away from gold-medal winner South Korea (1:28.09) and silver-medallist Norway (1:28.48).
The Canadian Press