Ivanie Blondin (CAN) won her career first gold medal racing over a classic speed skating distance when she triumphed in the ladies 3000m in four minutes, 4.86 seconds in Erfurt on Sunday. Antoinette de Jong (NED) took silver in 4:05.45 and Martina Sáblíková (CZE) collected the bronze in 4:05.91.
Blondin, who has five Mass Start and two Team Pursuit gold medals under her belt, was delighted to finally land a victory in one of the classic events.
“That feels really good,” she said. “It’s always been a goal for me. The Mass Start is so unpredictable, so I don’t want to rely solely on that.”
Although she has reached the podium before in both the 3000m and 5000m, the Erfurt win still came as a surprise.
“It just came together really well today and I wasn’t expecting that. I was really relaxed. We arrived on Wednesday so I had little time to adjust from the jetlag. We were on a training camp in Phoenix (USA), biking for five days. We haven’t even been on the ice. I did not try too hard today and it all came very easy.”
Runner-up De Jong said: “I’m not really satisfied with the last lap, but it was a good race. We’ve had a good week of training and this race here gives me a lot of confidence.
"I wanted to skate an international race just ahead of the Olympic Games. That’s why I started here and not at the European Championships in Kolomna. That would have been too much.”
With her victory, Blondin takes over the World Cup lead from Sáblíková. The Canadian now has 335 points and the Czech is second with 320 points. Natalia Voronina (RUS), who finished fifth in Erfurt, is third with 315 points.