Kali Christ looked to be back in top form Saturday.
The Regina speed skater bounced back from a hip injury sustained last January to win bronze in the women’s team pursuit with Ottawa skaters Ivanie Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann at the Olympic Oval.
“It’s really exciting for me,” Christ said. “It’s my first team pursuit in a couple years. Just to know the team trusted me to be out there, it was really awesome.
“I’ve had a lot of people telling me I’m skating like I used to. That’s really encouraging.”
Christ caught an edge on a straightaway late in the race but managed to stay on her skates, thanks in part to the stabilizing strength of her rehabilitated hip.
“It was a long process of trying different treatments, different tests, to see what was really wrong,” said the 26-year-old. “It’s taken me a little while to even do more than two laps in a row. “[Last season] it felt like my leg stopped working. I couldn’t get the push or the power to keep going.
“It’s been a long road, but it’s coming along.”
The Japanese trio of Miho Takagi, Ayaka Kikuchi, and Nana Takagi won gold in a world-record time of two minutes 53.88 seconds, breaking the 2:55.77 standard they set last month in the Netherlands.
Germany picked up silver.
A member of the Netherlands team fell during the race, helping Canada reach the podium.
“In a way we were a little bit lucky,” said Blondin. “But even with a fourth [Saturday], I would have been extremely happy.”
Canadian men slip
The Canadian men didn’t fare as well.
Benjamin Donnelly, of Oshawa, Ont., wiped out during their team pursuit, taking he and teammates Denny Morrison and Ted-Jan Bloemen out of contention.
“After the race, after the fall, we forgot about it instantly — we were joking around and having fun,” said Morrison. “That’s really and truly part of speed skating. Balancing on a one-millimetre thick blade going 60 kilometres an hour on a turn, you have to be in a perfect position.”
The Netherlands placed first, followed by Japan and Norway.
“I talk about how pressure creates diamonds and pressure’s a privilege,” said Morrison, “But no diamond was created in the team pursuit. We really felt we could’ve broken a world record. We’ve trained for that tons and tons and tons. We know exactly what to do.”
Morrison insisted that expectations remain high for the Canadian threesome.
“There’ll be extra…