Bloemen, Weidemann victorious on 1st day of Canadian long track speed skating trials

·3 min read
Canada's Ted-Jan Bloemen, seen above in February, won the men's 5,000 metres at the Canadian long track championships on Wednesday in Calgary. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images - image credit)
Canada's Ted-Jan Bloemen, seen above in February, won the men's 5,000 metres at the Canadian long track championships on Wednesday in Calgary. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images - image credit)

Canadian long track speed skaters made their return to Calgary's Olympic Oval on Wednesday for the first day of national trials, where four champions including Olympic gold medallist Ted-Jan Bloemen and rising star Isabelle Weidemann were crowned.

Bloemen, 35, cruised to victory in the 5,000 metres with a time of six minutes 6.69 seconds, well ahead of second-place Graeme Fish at 6:13.31 and third-place Jordan Belchos at 6:18.94.

Bloemen, a Dutch Canadian who began competing for Canada in 2014, won silver in the event at the 2018 Olympics after setting a world record of 6:01.86 in the distance at the 2017 world championships.

Fish, a 24-year-old from Moose Jaw, Sask., made his international debut at 2020 worlds, beating the Olympic champion Bloemen for gold in the 10,000 while settling for bronze in the 5,000.

Both skaters appear poised to climb multiple podiums at the 2022 Olympics, which begin on Feb. 4. The national championships help finalize the Canadian team members for the upcoming season, including those Beijing Games.

Weidemann, meanwhile, is on a revenge tour after her Pyeongchang experience went somewhat sideways with a fourth-place finish in the team pursuit to go with sixth- and seventh-place finishes in individual races.

But the Ottawa native topped a strong field in the 3,000 on Wednesday, crossing the finish line in 3:56.89. Ivanie Blondin, 31, placed second at 3:59.99 while Valerie Maltais was third at 4:01.23.

"It was a good race today, proud of how I skated. It's just getting me excited for the rest of the season," Weidemann told CBC Sports' Anastasia Bucsis after the race. The 26-year-old could compete in four World Cup events before the calendar turns to 2022.

WATCH | Day 1 of the long track national championships:

Weidemann said she enters the Olympic season with more experience than previously.

"I'm a lot better at performing under pressure and managing the pressure and so that's what I'm taking into these next Games," she said.

The Canadian 1,500 record-holder Blondin, like Weidemann, is looking to enter Beijing strong after placing fourth, fifth and sixth in various 2018 events.

Fellow 2018 Olympian Laurent Dubreuil was victorious in the men's 500 with his time of 34.12 seconds, less than one-tenth of a tick off Jeremy Wotherspoon's national record. Gilmore Junio (34.59) and Cedrick Brunet (34.97) were the only other skaters to crack the 35-second mark.

Dubreuil, a 29-year-old from Levis, Que., finished 18th in the event in Pyeongchang after taking bronze at the 2015 single distance championships.

"Kinda wish I was a couple tenths faster today," Dubreuil said. "I think I had it in me but the execution wasn't perfect. But the skate is one-hundredth off my PB while not feeling great so it's really encouraging and happy with the results still."

Finally, 23-year-old Brooklyn McDougall held off Marsha Hudey, 31, by hundredths of a second to take the women's 500 crown with a time of 37.851 seconds. Hudey was just behind at 37.856, with Kaylin Irvine placing third at 37.93.

"I'm still a little bit overwhelmed by the race and I'm so happy that I was able to put that together and race as fast as I did," McDougall said.

Live coverage from Calgary continues on CBCSports.ca on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET with the women's 5,000 and men's 10,000.

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