Isabelle Weidemann is having a year. The Canadian speedskater is number one in 3,000- and 5,000-metre racing. Heading into the Beijing Olympics, she is the woman the rest of the world is chasing.
Weidemann is also the acknowledged diesel engine in Canada's pursuit trio, along with Ivanie Blondin and Valérie Maltais.
Why diesel? Because once the lanky 26-year-old gets up to speed, she has fantastic efficiency and endurance. Weidemann hauls teammates in her wake for extraordinarily long distances.
Weidemann hunkered down for a chat with her old teammate Anastasia Bucsis, at home in Calgary, a short jog from the Olympic Oval. The Ottawa-born skater is as surprised as anyone to find herself a team veteran. Time flies when you are logging hundreds of hours toward saving fractions of seconds.
One of the surprises for Weidemann, amid the inevitable slog of training, is the recognition that try as she might in every way to be a better athlete, life away from the ice has more influence than most people acknowledge.
The week Weidemann got a new puppy was also the week she smashed personal goals in training. A trip out of town with family set off a streak of racing successes. It happens too often to be a coincidence.
For the truly driven athlete, there's an art to discovering when and how to step back, take the foot off the gas and return to even greater results.
POV podcast host Anastasia Bucsis has often said Weidemann is one of the most underrated athletes in Canada. Before the Winter Olympics get underway, here's a chance to discover why the background buzz about the Canadian speedskating team is getting steadily louder.
For our hard of hearing and deaf audience members, we are pleased to provide transcripts.
Weidemann has also taken readers inside her practises with an essay for CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice personal writing series.
A video version of this podcast is available at CBC Sports YouTube channel.
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