Pairs figure skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford take Olympic bronze. (Photo by The Canadian Press)

Speedskater Bloemen wins 10,000-metre gold in Olympic-record time on huge day for Canada

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — After settling for silver in the men’s 5,000 metres, Calgary speedskater Ted-Jan Bloemen lamented that he wished he had more in the tank to challenge Dutch great Sven Kramer for gold.

His tank was full of high-grade octane on Thursday, as Bloemen dominated the competition in the men’s 10,000 metres and won the gold medal in an Olympic-record time.

Skating with confidence and consistency in the second-last pair, Bloemen laid down a time of twelve minutes, 39.11 seconds. It was a mark not even Kramer, one of the greatest speedskaters of all time, could match.

Perhaps daunted by the high bar set by Bloemen, Kramer flagged during his skate and finished a shocking sixth. Bloemen’s camp was so sure of victory that coach Bart Schouten gave the eventual Olympic champion a victory hug while Kramer still had 2,000 metres to skate.

Bloemen’s gold was part of a banner day for Canada’s Olympians that saw the luge relay team of Alex Gough, Sam Edney, Tristan Walker and Justin Snith win silver and pairs figure skaters Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford take bronze.

Meanwhile, Canada’s women’s hockey team finished the round-robin undefeated with a 2-1 win over archrival United States.

The 31-year-old Bloemen, who moved from the Netherlands to Calgary four years ago to compete for Canada, added the Olympic record to his world record in the gruelling 10,000-metre distance.

Dutchman Jorrit Bergsma, the 2014 victor in the 10k, was second and briefly held the Olympic record with a time of 12:41.98 until Bloemen erased it in the next pairing.

Italy’s Nicola Tumolero took the bronze.

Toronto’s Jordan Belchos finished fifth with a career-best time of 12:59.51.

Bloemen’s father Gerhard-Jan was born in Bathurst, N.B., and lived in Canada for seven years before his family returned to the Netherlands.

Since arriving in Calgary in the spring of 2014, Bloemen has obtained his Canadian citizenship and married his Dutch wife Marlinde in a ceremony in Calgary.

Elsewhere, Canada earned its second Olympic luge medal in dramatic fashion as the relay team raced to a time of two minutes 24.872 seconds.

The powerhouse Germans won gold in 2:24.517 while Austria took bronze in 2:24.988.

The Canadians mobbed doubles duo Walker and Snith after their doubles run put Canada atop the standings with just the Austrians and Germans to go.

The medal was redemption for Calgary’s Edney, Gough and Snith and Cochrane, Alta., native Walker, who combined finished fourth in the relay when it made its Olympic debut four years ago — a mere tenth of a second back of third.

The foursome got bumped up to bronze for what would have been Canada’s first luge podium at a Games in December when two Russian competitors were among dozens of athletes from the host nation stripped of their 2014 results and banned for life for alleged doping violations by the International Olympic Committee.

But the Canadians were once again pushed back to fourth following the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s recent decision to overturn the punishment for 28 of those athletes, including lugers Albert Demchenko and Tatiana Ivanova.

Gough secured Canada’s first-ever Olympic medal in luge with a bronze in Tuesday’s women’s race.

Meanwhile, Duhamel and Radford ended a dry spell for Canada in pairs figure skating, capping their final Olympics with a bronze medal.

Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Radford of Balmertown, Ont., finished third Thursday to give Canada its first Olympic pairs medal since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier captured gold in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Duhamel and Radford, two-time world champions competing in their final season, scored 153.33 points for their program to Adele’s “Hometown Glory,” and 230.15 total points.

Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot won gold with 235.90 while reigning world champions Sui Wenging and Han Cong of China took silver with 235.47.

“It’s the sweetest (ending) it could possibly be right now,” Radford said. “I don’t think that there’s any better way.”

“I don’t think there’ve been happier bronze medallists than we are,” added Duhamel.

It’s the second medal of the Games for Duhamel and Radford, who helped lead Canada to gold in the team event earlier in the week.

The winning continued Thursday as Canada’s women’s hockey team clinched top spot in pool play by beating the Americans.

Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., and Hamilton’s Sarah Nurse scored in the second period for the Canadians, who are aiming for a fifth straight Olympic title.

Genevieve Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., stopped 44 shots.

“I always expect a lot of shots against the U.S. and we did a great job keeping their shots to the outside,” Lacasse said. “They usually get a good amount of shots, but not necessarily that many quality ones.”

With her 16th goal in her fourth Olympics, Agosta moved into second all-time behind Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser (18).

Both the U.S. and Canada had already booked berths in Monday’s semifinals, having won their first two games in Pool A.

Canada started the day on a sour note with Ottawa’s Rachel Homan shouldering an 8-6 loss to South Korea in her first game of the women’s curling tournament.

Down 5-4 in the ninth end, Homan attempted an aggressive shot, but the move backfired with South Korea stealing a big three points for an 8-4 lead.

“We’re trying to learn the ice and see the tendencies, and we just had a few too many misses,” said Canada second Joanne Courtney. “Team Korea played fantastic, and they made us pay for our errors.”

Homan, a three-time Canadian champion and the defending world champion, is playing in her first Olympic Games. Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones skipped Canada to a gold medal in the Sochi Olympics four years ago.

Canada played Sweden later in the day.

Alpine skier Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Invermere, B.C., was the top Canadian in the men’s downhill, finishing 14th in one minute 41.89 seconds. Aksel Lund Svindal won the race, making the 35-year-old Norwegian the oldest Olympic gold medallist in alpine skiing.

Ben Thomsen, also from Invermere, B.C., was 28th in 1:43.19, Dustin Cook of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Que., was 32nd in 1:43.80 and Broderick Thompson of Whistler, B.C., was 35th in 1:44.37.

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