Canadians miss podium in speed skating mass start

Ivanie Blondin crashes out in semifinal

By Pete Evans, CBC Sports

Two Canadians competed in the medal race in mass start speed skating on Saturday, but both finished well behind the eventual winners.

Burlington, Ont.-based skater Keri Morrison finished 12th in the women's event, which was won by Japanese skater Nana Takagi. Kim Bo-Reum of South Korea took the silver and Irene Schouten took the bronze.

The 26-year-old Canadian was making her Olympic debut at these Games, as was the event itself.

Most long track events are individual races, where skaters get a lane and race whoever they are paired with, and skaters are then ranked based solely on their times. But the mass start is a hectic, 15-lap trip around the oval, with no preset lanes, and the winners are awarded points depending on how they finish during three sprint laps, and for the order in which they cross the finish line. 

Morrison was the lone Canadian in the race, after her teammate and medal hopeful Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa fell in her semifinal and was eliminated for finishing in ninth place.

"If it wasn't for that fall I'd be going into the final," Blondin told the CBC after the race. "I lost my balance and there was nothing I could do."

Blondin was a dark horse for a medal in the event, coming into it ranked sixth in the world.

Men's results

On the men's side, Olivier Jean was the lone Canadian to participate in the event, and he finished in 14th place.

The 33-year-old skater from Lachenaie, Que. is a former short-track speed skater who won a gold medal in the men's relay in Vancouver in 2010. But he converted to long track last year, specializing in the mass start because his experience with crowded races in short track lends itself well to the new event.

He came into the race ranked 10th in the world.

The race was won by Lee Seung-Hoon of South Korea, and Belgium's Bart Swings took the silver while bronze went to Koen Verweij of the Netherlands.