BEIJING — Canada’s Olympians have made many trips to the podium at the Beijing Winter Games, but heading into Tuesday, only one of those included a stop on the top step.
After an eight-day wait, Canada has claimed its elusive second gold medal courtesy of the women’s pursuit speedskating team.
Valerie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., and Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann of Ottawa combined forces to defeat Japan in the event’s “A” final in an Olympic-record time of two minutes 53.44 seconds.
Japan had a slight lead entering the final turn, but Nana Takagi went down on the final turn and crashed into the padding, allowing Canada to cruise to the win.
Weidemann now has won a medal of every colour in Beijing. She won silver in the 5,000 metres and bronze in the 3,000.
“We’re giving everything we have,” the Ottawa native said. “We’re all going to the blackout zone. We were just going to cross the line having spent it all.
“It took us a while at the end to figure it all out.”
Takagi broke into tears after getting up to finish the race, and was consoled by teammates Ayano Sato and Miho Takagi, her sister.
The final time isn’t recorded until all skaters cross the line, giving the Canadians an 11.03-second margin of victory.
“The last part of the race is our strongest,” Blondin said. “I think that we would have caught them.”
Weidemann became the second Canadian long-track speedskater to win more than two medals at a single Games. Cindy Klassen won five medals in Turin.
Maltais, for her part, became the third athlete in Winter Games history to win Olympic medals in short-track and long-track events, the Canadian Olympic Committee said.
While the golds have been hard to come by for Canada, it had 17 total medals (two gold, four silver, 11 bronze) heading into Tuesday’s late events.
Canada’s first gold medal came on Feb. 7, when snowboarder Max Parrot won the men’s slopestyle event. While Parrot couldn’t duplicate his podium-topping performance in Tuesday’s men’s big air, he did take bronze in the event to give Canada its sixth snowboard medal.
The 27-year-old from Bromont, Que., fell on his first jump, but landed a huge cab 1800 on his second attempt. His 1620 on his third jump was enough to get him on the medal podium.
“After (the first run) I was extremely bummed, disappointed in myself because that trick I landed a couple of times in practice and I knew I could do it,” Parrot said. “I was just short a little bit on speed and I had a lot of pressure for second and third runs.
“On my second run, I tried to focus as hard as I could and was able to land my 1800 the best I’ve done the whole week and got a 94. I was proud of that.”
Regina’s Mark McMorris was 10th on Tuesday, while Vancouver’s Darcy Sharpe was 12th.
China’s 17-year-old star Su Yiming set the pace, landing front- and backside 1800s on his first two jumps to win gold.
Mons Roisland of Norway won the silver, surpassing Parrot on his final jump.
Earlier Tuesday, Jasmine Baird of Georgetown, Ont., was seventh and Quebec City’s Laurie Blouin was eighth in the women’s event.
The men’s hockey team drew one step closer to a medal with a 7-2 victory over China in the qualification round. Adam Tambellini had two goals, including one on a penalty shot, and three assists, while Jordan Weal added a pair of goals and an assist.
The team will now take on Sweden in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.
Score aside, Canada’s roster of non-NHLers will need to improve their play if they want to contend for a medal. The team struggled at times, beginning early in the game when goaltender Matt Tomkins was forced to make a save on a Tyler Wong breakaway and a Spencer Foo penalty shot.
The Canadian men’s curling team finished the day with one win, one loss — putting Brad Gushue’s squad in a nearly must-win situation against Great Britain on Wednesday to remain in the medal hunt.
Canada’s record dropped to 5-4 following a 7-6 extra-end loss to Russia.
With one game remaining, Canada sits third in the round robin, just ahead of Russia (4-4) and the United States (4-4). Switzerland sits at 3-4 but with two games left to play.
Only the top four teams at the end of the round robin qualify for the semifinals.
Gushue can guarantee his squad a spot in the medal round by finishing off the round robin with a win over Great Britain on Wednesday (10:05 p.m. ET). Failing that, Canada would need at least two of the teams chasing them to lose.
“We will rest up — cheer for whoever we need to cheer for to see if things can go our way — but our fate is still in our own hands. We’ve got to win our last game, but we’ve got a tough match against Great Britain, so (we will) just make sure we’re ready for that,” he said.
The day started well, when Gushue’s tap back against two in the 10th end gave Canada a 10-8 win over China.
It was a tough go in the women’s freeski slopestyle for Olivia Asselin. The 17-year-old from Quebec City completed her first run with a minimal number of tricks before withdrawing from the competition.
Freestyle Canada chief executive officer Peter Judge said Asselin tweaked her knee in training and was also struggling psychologically with the pressures of competing at an Olympics.
“She’s pretty devastated. I think as anybody would be, you know?” said Judge. “You get here, you want to do your best, you know your friends and family are there, you know your country is supporting you. You want to do as best as possible.
“She’s pretty gutted, but she’s a tough little girl and I think she’ll bounce back.”
Max Moffatt will be the lone Canadian competing in the men’s freestyle ski slopestyle final after finishing 11th in the qualifier on Tuesday.
Moffatt won a slopestyle silver at the X Games earlier this year.
In the men’s 4×7.5-kilometre biathlon relay, Canada finished sixth for its best-ever result in the event. Scott Gow, Christian Gow and Adam Runnalls, all from Calgary, and Jules Burnotte of Sherbrooke, Que., finished one minute 56.3 seconds behind gold medallist Norway.
In the women’s downhill, Marie-Michèle Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que., placed eighth and Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., was 24th.
“I’m happy and I’m proud of my performance, but I’m confused why I didn’t get a medal today,” said Gagnon.
Madeline Schizas, who made an impressive debut last week in the figure skating team event, was unable to duplicate her clean skate and ended with a 60.53 in the women’s short program. The result left her sitting in 20th and allowed her to qualify her for the free skate.
The eyes of the world have been on Russian teen Kamila Valieva, who led the pack after the short program despite being at the centre of an Olympic doping scandal. She faltered on her opening triple axel and then made it through the rest of her program, breaking into tears as the music stopped.
The 15-year-old Valieva tested positive for a banned heart medication from a sample given in December, a result that only emerged last week after she helped Russia win gold in the team event.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Monday that Valieva should be allowed to compete, in part because she is a minor, but has said there will be no medal ceremony if she wins.
In men’s freestyle skiing aerials, Canadian Miha Fontaine just missed qualifying for the final round. Fontaine, who was part of the team that won bronze in the mixed team aerials, finished in 13th, less than half a point back from the final spot. Emile Nadeau and Lewis Irving finished 17th and 23rd, respectively.
The team of Chris Spring and Mike Evelyn slid into seventh in the two-man bobsled, while Justin Kripps and Cameron Stones finished 10th. Taylor Austin and Daniel Sunderland were further down the field in 20th.
The Germans dominated the event, taking all three podium spots.
— With files from The Associated Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: Fixes Canada’s curling opponent (China) in 15th graf