Canadian Ivanie Blondin skates to 2nd Beijing Olympics medal with silver in mass start

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Canadian Ivanie Blondin won her second medal of the Beijing Olympics.

The Ottawa native won the silver medal in the speed skating mass start on Saturday in China. She was previously part of the trio that won gold in the team pursuit.

Dutch skater Irene Schouten won the mass start just six hundredths of a second ahead of Blondin, while Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida completed the podium with bronze.

Blondin, 31, entered the final speed skating event of these Games as one of the favourites.

She also carried that status when the event debuted at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, but crashed out in the semi-finals to end her medal hopes early.

The Canadian has made sure it doesn’t happen again in Beijing. She dominated this semi-final, crossing the finish line in first place after the full 16 laps around the ice while adding points in the intermediate sprint laps.

In the final, Blondin bided her time as her teammate Valérie Maltais, with whom she won gold in the team pursuit, took the lead in the first half of the race.

But as Maltais began to fade, Blondin – the two-time world champion – found her busted for the final laps. On the final straight, Blondin battled Schouten for the gold medal.

Canada’s Ivanie Blondin celebrates with the Canadian flag after winning the silver medal in the women’s speed skating mass start on Saturday at the Beijing Olympics. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

Maltais, the 31-year-old converted short tracker from Saguenay, Que., finished sixth.

Meanwhile, Canadians Jordan Belchos and Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu both reached the men’s final, where they placed 10th and 15th respectively.

Blondin’s silver was Canada’s fifth medal in speed skating at the Ice Ribbon in Beijing. Isabelle Weidemann anchored the gold medal in the team pursuit while collecting silver in the 5,000m and bronze in the 3,000m. Laurent Dubreuil bounced back from a disappointing fourth place in the 500m to take silver in the 1,000m.

The mass start also represented the final call in the career of legendary CBC broadcaster Steve Armitage.

The 78-year-old has worked 18 Olympic Games over more than 50 years with the public broadcaster.

WATCH | A look back at some of Armitage’s best calls:

CBC Sports’ Steve Armitage retires after Beijing 2022

Take a look back at Armitage’s illustrious career as one of the most iconic voices in Canadian broadcasting. 2:50

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