CALGARY - Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin and Calgary's Ted-Jan Bloemen won the long-distance races Saturday at the Canadian single distance long track speed skating championships.
Blondin took gold in the women's 3,000-metre race with a winning time of four minutes 6.89 seconds, while Bloemen won the men's 5,000 metres in a time of 6:25.94.
"I'm really happy with the result," said Blondin, who won five medals during the fall World Cup season — two gold, a silver and a bronze in mass start, as well as a bronze in the 5,000 metres. "I would say I'm a lot more tired today than I was after my races at the beginning of the season, when I collected all those medals for my country, but I think today I've proven that I'm the strongest skater in Canada in the longest distances."
Regina's Kali Christ picked up women's silver in 4:09.20 and Edmonton's Nicole Garrido won the bronze in 4:09.90.
Jordan Belchos of Markham, Ont., won men's silver in 6:32.41 and Winnipeg's Stefan Waples claimed bronze in 6:34.08.
Blondin opened this weekend's national single distance championships by setting a personal best in Friday's 1,500 metres, which was good for a silver behind Christ. Christ then set a personal best in the 3,000 metres on Saturday, good for a silver behind Blondin.
Blondin and Christ are preparing to resume the World Cup season, with the next weekend of competition set for Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Hamar, Norway.
"The next part of the season is coming up pretty fast, and hopefully I'll be able to recreate what I started at the beginning of the season," said Blondin.
Saturday's race on the men's side was Bloemen's second 5,000 metre in Canada since he moved from the Netherlands in the summer. At the fall World Cup trials in October, he came within 1.75 seconds of breaking the Canadian 5,000-metre record with a 6:15.75 skate, but he couldn't find that same form on Saturday.
"It was tough today," he said. "It didn't feel like it was a good race. I was struggling to hold on to my position. It was more fighting than good technical skating."
Bloemen was happy, however, with how he toughed it out at the end of the 12-and-a-half-lap contest.
"I did keep it together. It was a good finish and a decent race, and I'm happy with the mental toughness I showed."