SPORTS

Canadians Morrison, Blondin 4th midway at World Allrounds

03/07/2015 08:35 EST | Updated 05/07/2015 05:59 EDT
Double 2014 Olympic medallist Denny Morrison of Fort St. John, B.C., and Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin, were in fourth place overall after the first day and first two races of the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships at the Calgary Olympic Oval.

Morrison, who won silver and bronze medals just over a year ago in Sochi, had the fastest time in the opening 500 metre race, 34.98 and was 11th fastest in the 5,000, in 6:25.01, for an overall placing of fourth, behind Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, the winner of the 5,000 in 6:07.49, Russia's Denis Yuskov and Norway's Sverre Lunde Pedersen. 

"It's pretty inspiring to be able to race for the home crowd," said the veteran 29-year-old skater, "If I can be close to my personal best in the 1,500 tomorrow or get a personal best then that's going to be really great," Morrison said. "I'm excited to be skating here at home, with the crowd, with the fast ice that I know I can skate on better than these guys. I think that's to my advantage. I'm going to try to smash it tomorrow."

Calgary's Ted-Jan Bloemen was 16th of 24 skaters after Saturday's events.

Blondin, of Ottawa who has enjoyed a breakthrough season on the World Cup circuit, particularly in the mass start event, was in fourth place after her first two races, behind Heather Richardson of the United States, Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic and Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.

"I definitely wasn't expecting this," said Blondin, who's hoping for another solid result on Sunday in the 1,500 to qualify among the top eight skaters who will compete in the 5,000 later that same afternoon. "To be ranked fourth right now, I'm really happy with that. I think it's an accomplishment in itself and I'm pretty pumped about it."

Regina's Kali Christ had the second fastest 500 metre time, 38.67 and was eighth overall following the 3,000.

On Sunday, the ladies and men will skate the 1,500 metre event and following that the 24-skater fields will be trimmed to the top 8 to skate in the final event, 5,000 metres for the women and 10,000 for the men.

Wust of the Netherlands, a distance specialist, but certainly a great all-round skater, is chasing her fifth consecutive World Allround Championship.

Kramer is seeking his seventh title.

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