Canada’s Jean earns bronze in mass start at single distance worlds

Olivier Jean of Canada. (Darron Cummings/AP)

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — Canada’s Olivier Jean earned a bronze medal in the men’s mass start on Sunday, the last day of the world single distance speed-skating championships.

Jean, from Lachenaie, Que., quickly skated out in front with a small pack of skaters and never looked back after that, as he ended up collecting bronze behind Joey Mantia of the United States and France’s Alexis Contin. Toronto’s Jordan Belchos was 19th.

"When I saw an opportunity to break away and realized there were other quality skaters with me, I decided to invest a lot of energy in it. I showed to the other athletes that I was ready to invest and to pull some laps to force the others to work as a team, and that’s exactly what happened," said Jean. "This was only my third mass start race this season and I didn’t know how I compared to the other skaters. I guess that I was pretty strong."

Jean’s previous best result in five career mass start races had been a 13th-place finish in the second stage of this World Cup season in Nagano, Japan.

The 32-year-old Jean took part in his first long track event in the fall of 2015. He previously represented Canada in short track at the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, notably winning a gold medal with the men’s relay in Vancouver.

Canada finished the world single distance championships with three medals: a silver medal won by Vincent De Haitre in the men’s 1,000 metres, as well as bronze medals earned by Ivanie Blondin in the women’s 5,000 metres and Jean’s mass start bronze. Canada also finished four times at the foot of the podium, in addition to registering two fifth-place finishes and three sixth-place results, for a total of twelve top-six results.

In the women’s mass start, Ottawa’s Blondin was unable to defend her world title.

She was well positioned in the pack but Irene Schouten of the Netherlands, last season’s World Cup champion, fell in front of her, forcing Blondin to slow down and settle for fifth place in the race, and 10th place when taking intermediate points into account.

The race was won by South Korea’s Bo-Reum Kim, who leads the World Cup standings this season. She finished ahead of Japan’s Nana Takagi and Heather Bergsma of the United States.

After collecting a silver medal in Saturday’s 1,000 metres, De Haitre of Cumberland, Ont., came 0.29 seconds away from another podium finish, as he skated to fourth place in 1:45.79.

Kjeld Nuis (1:44.36) of the Netherlands won gold, followed by Russia’s Denis Yuskov (1:44.67) and Sven Kramer (1:45.50) of the Netherlands.

The other Canadian skating in the men’s 1,500 metres, Ben Donnelly of Oshawa, Ont., was disqualified for having forced the other skater in his pair to slow down when changing lanes.

In the women’s 1,500 metres, Ottawa’s Isabelle Weidemann (1:59.47), was the top Canadian with a 18th-place finish. Brianne Tutt (2:01.26) of Airdrie, Alta., was 22nd. Heather Bergsma (1:54.08) of the United States won gold, followed by Ireen Wust (1:54.19) of the Netherlands and Japan’s Miho Takagi (1:55.12).