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The Netherlands wins the world gold medal in speed skating, and Canada wins the silver medal

The Netherlands wins the world gold medal in speed skating, and Canada wins the silver medal

CALGARY — American speed skating star Jordan Stolz opened the defense of his triple world championship title with a win Friday in the 500 metres, while Canadian sprinter Laurent Dubreuil claimed silver for the second year in a row.

Stolz became the first man to win three gold medals in the individual distances at last year's World Championships in Heerenveen, Netherlands, in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 metres.

The 19-year-old from West Bend, Wisconsin, clocked a personal best time of 33.69 seconds at the Calgary Olympic Oval on Friday to break Dubreuil's record of 33.77. Stolz was also just shy of the 500-meter world record of 33.61 seconds.

“I was really close,” Stolz said.

Dubreuil was from Levis, Que. Less than three-tenths of a second behind in 33.95. He and Stolz in the final pairing posted identical times over the first 100 metres.

“Best start I've ever had,” Dubreuil said. “In the last doubles against at least the best skater of our generation, it was very difficult to maintain concentration, but I had one of the best races of my life and I am very happy with it.”

Dubreuy, 31, was the 2021 world champion in the 500 meters and the 2022 Olympic silver medalist in the 1,000 meters.

He's chasing the young phenom he's beaten at times this season, but Stolz is first and Dubreuil second in the overall World Cup standings.

“It goes beyond the limits of the human body,” Al-Kindi said. “His body is obviously a little better than mine, but he helps me push myself.

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“Just the fact that we can consider it a competition means I'm a very, very good skater, because he lives on another planet by himself. I'm just trying to push myself and hopefully challenge him. If he slips or gets hurt badly today, I want to be the guy who finishes that day.”

Stolz continues his quest for a back-to-back hat-trick in the 1,000 on Saturday and the 1,500 on Sunday.

“I feel like the 1,500 is probably the hardest, just because a lot can happen,” Stolz said.

Polish Damian Zurek won the bronze medal in the 500 meters with a time of 34.11 seconds.

The Canadian pursuit teams took home silver and bronze medals on Friday. Italy won the men's gold medal ahead of Norway and Canada, while the Netherlands beat Canada to regain the women's title.

The Dutch women were faster than the Canadians last year in Heerenveen, but were disqualified for an equipment violation by one of the skiers. The gold medal went to Isabelle Weidman of Ottawa, Evanie Blondin and Valerie Maltese of Saguenay, Que., but the reigning Olympic champions couldn't match the Dutch speed in Calgary.

In the team pursuit, two teams of three skaters simultaneously start on either side of the oval and race against the clock over six laps for women and eight laps for men.

Joy Byun, Erin Schouten and Mareke Gruenaud won in a record time of 2 minutes, 51.20 seconds, with the Canadians taking the silver medal by 2.83 seconds.

The Japanese women were unable to maintain their early pace and fell from second to third place in the bell lap.

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The Canadian trio is adjusting lap position and formation with the aim of defending their Olympic title in 2026. Teams switch leaders throughout the race or stay in the same formation throughout.

“We nailed our race plan,” Blundin said. “It wasn't as fast as the Dutch, which is a bit sad, but that's okay. I mean, we have to build on this.

“We're just trying to figure out when we're going to start, how hard it is to start and all these different things. I think we're still figuring out a new strategy.”

Italy won the men's pursuit in a time of 3:35, ahead of silver medalist Norway in 3:36.07. Connor Howe of Canmore, Alta., Hayden Mayor of Toronto, and Antoine Gelinas Beaulieu of Sherbrooke, Que., took bronze in 3:36.72.

Femke Kok of the Netherlands defended her world title in the women's 500 meters in 36.83 seconds. South Korean Min Sun Kim ranked second with a time of 37.19 seconds, ahead of American Kim Goetz, who won the bronze medal, with a time of 37.21 seconds.

The International Skating Federation's individual distance world championships continue on Saturday with a men's and women's team race and a 1,000-metre distance. Maltese and Blondin are both medal contenders in the mass start.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2024.

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