Canada’s Ivanie Blondin eased into the women’s mass start final on the opening day of the International Skating Union Speed Skating World Cup season in Heerenveen.
Blondin, the 2016 world champion in the event, won her semi-final race at the Thialf Ice Arena in the Dutch city.
The Canadian skater crossed the line in a time of 8min 47.150sec as part of a leading group of five athletes.
She was followed across the line by Japan’s Nana Takagi and Italy’s Francesca Lollobrigida, who managed times of 8:47.580 and 8:47.630 respectively.
Belarus’ Maryna Zuyeva and The Netherlands’ Melissa Wijfje were also part of the leading group.
The opening semi-final had proved a slower one, with Dutch skater Irene Schouten achieving the fastest time by finishing in 8:59.510.
The Pyeongchang 2018 bronze medallist was followed by Japan’s Ayano Sato and Bo-Reum Kim of South Korea, who rounded off the top three.
New Zealand’s Peter Michael triumphed in the first semi-final of the men’s mass start, as he finished in a time of Peter Michael.
Michael was seven seconds clear of runner-up Andrea Giovannini of Italy, while Germany’s Felix Maly was a further four behind.
South Korea’s Jaewon Chung won the second semi-final in a time of 7:45.410.
Belgium’s Bart Swings and Italy’s Daniel Niero finished within a second of the winner to complete the top three.
The finals of the mass start events are due to take place tomorrow, along with the men’s and women’s 500 and 1,500 metres races.
The World Cup event is scheduled to conclude on Sunday (December 16).