GANGNEUNG — Canadian speed skater Alex Boisvert-Lacroix knew he was in trouble as he counted strides down the back stretch.
“My strides were not long enough. I needed 12 strides instead of 10. But I did 10 and I stuck to 10.”
At that point of the 500 metres, which is essentially a one-lap race, if a skater throws in the extra strides, he chances going too deep into the entry and screwing up the corner entirely.
“Looking back, I needed those two strides,” the 30-year-old Boisvert-Lacroix said.
He has to live with that decision after he finished 11th in 34.934, nowhere near the podium he was stalking all year on the World Cup trail. He won back-to-back 500-metre races in Calgary and Salt Lake City and came here ready to win.
But Havard Lorentzen of Norway took gold in 34.41, Korea’s Min Kyu Cha was second in 34.42 and China’s Tingyu Gao claimed bronze in 34.65.
“It wasn’t a really bad race. I’m still under 35.0 at sea level. It’s a decent race,” Boisvert-Lacroix said. “Just tonight the guys who won were so strong. I mean 34.4, oh my god. That’s crazy. Honestly, that’s really crazy.”
He started well down the front straight but that mess in the corner sapped him of momentum and he couldn’t dig deep enough to get it back.
“When you lose some speed in the 500 metres, it’s hard to catch up. My second corner I was trying really hard but the damage was done.”
The Dutch swept the podium in Sochi four years ago, and two of their medallists were back to try again, Ronald Mulder and Jan Smeekens. But along with teammate Kai Verbij, who had the season’s second fastest time on the World Cup circuit this season, they only managed to finish inside the top 10.
Canadians Gilmore Junio and Laurent Dubreuil were 17th and 18th, respectively.
Meanwhile the Canadian women’s pursuit team went out conservatively but cranked it up to finish third and qualify for a semifinal against Japan on Wednesday. The team of Ivanie Blondin, Josie Morrison and Isabelle Weidemann crossed in 2:59.02, almost three seconds slower than Japan. The Netherlands was in top spot at 2:55.61 and the U.S. was an eye blink behind Canada at 2:59.75.
The two semifinal losers will skate against one another for the bronze.
“We’ve seen a lot of blow-ups and we’ve had a lot of blow-ups too in our races where we went out way too fast and died at the end,” said Blondin, who thought they skated a perfect race but could still get better for the semifinal.