World spot 'dream come true' for Orleans skater

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

Much like the way she can explode on the track, the reality of what she accomplished yesterday raced up and hit Ivanie Blondin. "It's my dream come true," said the excited 14-year-old from Orleans as she completed a stunning accomplishment yesterday at the Orleans Recreation Complex. Racing against much older and seasoned competitors, she won a spot on Canada's national junior short-track speed skating team, which will travel to the world championship in Belgrade next month.

"This feels so great," she said. "I'm going to get the 'Cheerios' suit."

She was referring to the junior team uniform which is sponsored by the cereal maker, an important symbol of what she had accomplished.

"(The world championships) are going to be so fun. I don't really like airplanes, but that doesn't matter now. I can't wait."

Blondin, who races for the Gloucester Concordes, exploded from the back of the pack to win the 1,000 metres yesterday in a time of one minute, 39.58 seconds, pretty much cementing her spot on the team with one race to go.

But she didn't stop there. She added another win in the 1,500. Coupled with her win in the 1,500 and a second in the 500 Saturday, that gave her a total of 3,816 points, good for top spot at the trials.

Jessica Gregg of Alberta, the daughter of former Edmonton Oilers defenceman Randy Gregg, finished second with 2,721 points for the weekend and also was named to the junior team. They join Quebec's Kalyna Roberge, who earned a spot by making the national senior team.

"She just blew us away," said Bob Blondin, Ivanie's proud father. "To perform the way she performed ... We thought it would be good to be among the top eight skaters, but when we saw she was right up there with them, we said, 'go, give it a shot.' We're proud of her."

Bob Blondin chuckled when told how excited Ivanie was to be getting the Cheerios suit. "When they're that young, that's what means the most to them," he said. "They can wear that suit and say, 'I've won this, I earned it.' "

On the men's side, Quebec's Mathieu Giroux won both races yesterday to give him a sweep of the events and 4,000 points. He led a Quebec sweep of the three spots for the men along with Francois Hamelin (3,114 points) and Guillaume Bastille (2,164).

Nicholas Bean of Orleans finished 10th with 697 points.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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