Isabelle Weidemann of Canada competes in the women’s 5000m speedskating finals during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Gangneung, South Korea on Friday, February 16, 2018. Isabelle Weidemann hit her stride, literally and figuratively, in long-track speedskating. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canadian speedskater Isabelle Weidemann pushes her way into world’s elite

The 23-year-old from Ottawa points to last February’s Winter Olympics as her defining moment of 2018

Isabelle Weidemann has hit her stride, literally and figuratively, in long-track speedskating.

Currently ranked No. 1 in the world in women’s distance racing, the 23-year-old from Ottawa points to last February’s Winter Olympics as her defining moment of 2018.

Weidemann was sixth in the 5,000 metres and seventh in the 3,000 in her first Olympic Games. Those results did not satisfy her.

“I was really hoping to push the podium a little bit more,” Weidemann told The Canadian Press. “I was very far off the podium and that kind of stung.

“I was really motivated after the Olympics after not doing so well, or just falling short of attaining what I wanted. I was very motivated to change the way I was approaching training.

“I got a sense I was close and nothing drives anybody more than being just off the podium, or just being out of contention.”

Weidemann won a gold medal and a silver in the 3k, as well as a silver medal in the 5k, over the first four events of the 2018-19 World Cup season in November and December.

“I worked very hard towards it this year and really made it my goal to jump to the next level,” Weidemann said. “I’d been stuck at in that fourth, fifth, sixth place for awhile now. I was really driven to make that jump.

“After the Olympic season, a lot of women retire. There’s a good opportunity to make it on the world stage. People tend to take the year off and I wanted to take the opportunity to put myself out there.”

She trains at Calgary’s Olympic Oval alongside fellow Ottawan Ivanie Blondin, a two-time Olympian who owns multiple world championship and World Cup medals in the mass start, 3k and 5k.

The two women are physical contrasts as the six-foot-two Weidemann is a full foot taller than Blondin.

“She’s one of the best in the world at multiple distances, which is very, very hard to do,” Weidemann said. “I feel fortunate to train alongside her every day.

“She has really paved the path, or led me down the road on how to find success. We compete against each other, so there’s a lot of competitiveness between us, but there’s a lot of respect.”

Remmelt Eldering of the Netherlands took over as coach of the Canadian women’s long-distance training group this season.

“It took a little bit to get used to each other, but I kept my course,” Eldering said. “I didn’t really change anything and Isabelle eventually got the hang of it. I feel like she felt comfortable in the program and adopted it.

“The biggest thing is her self-confidence. It grew.”

Weidemann says the Dutchman is the eighth coach she’s had in her seven years on the national team. She hopes the coaching carousel will stop at least until the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

“He’s looking to stay to the next Olympics so I’m looking forward to building a relationship,” she said. “It’s really important to have a relationship with your coach. It’s a business deal basically. He writes the program and I do the program and we have to work with each other.”

The second half of Weidemann’s season will include two more World Cups, the world single-distance championships Feb. 6-9 in Inzell, Germany, and the world all-around championships March 1-2 in Calgary.

“For me, ultimately the goal is building over these next four years so that I can go into the next Olympics as a legitimate contender and somebody who has a shot at medalling,” she said.

Weidemann, who will complete her geography degree in 2019, grew up idolizing world champion and Olympic multi-medallist Kristina Groves, who is also from Ottawa.

Weidemann is the oldest of three children all speed skating in Calgary. Brother Jake is a member of the national development team, while sister Lily skates in the Oval’s long-track program.

Weidemann is an alumnus of Ottawa’s Gloucester Concordes club, which also produced Blondin and Olympian Vincent de Haitre.

Concordes coach Mike Rivet said a few weeks prior to the 2018 Winter Games that Weidemann was “just starting to figure out the resources she has in her body and she doesn’t know how to use them yet. When she does, wow.”

It appears wow is now.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce preparing for business awards gala

Be sure to check the Jan. 24 Creston Valley Advance for the first week of available ballots.

First meeting for Fire Hall Technical Building Advisory Committee

The full-day orientation will provide an overview of the previous process and seek input on opportunities to move forward.

Police get hot tip on cold case

Creston RCMP received 50 calls for assistance.

New maternity care clinic opens at hospital

The Maple Maternity Clinic expects to see approximately 50 clients per year.

Yellow Vest Rally held in Creston

“United we stand divided we fall.”

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Parents in this B.C. city can no longer opt kids out of class for personal beliefs

Change comes as part of ‘big overhaul’ of school district’s learning resources policy approved by board

BC Hydro scammers bilked customers out of nearly $45,000 in 2018

Nearly 2,000 people reported scams to the utility, as they continue to be more common

Good news: Peak flu season over in B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says that while peak season is over, rates remain high this time of year

B.C. university students dumpster dive to shed light on food waste

Eating only from dumpsters, the students hope to raise money for food banks in Northern Canada

B.C. woman posts to Facebook after she and nephew reported missing for days

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Most Read