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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summer students for Potato House Society a first

The jobs were made possible by several grants

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend about 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

100 Mile RCMP seek help in stolen credit card case

Card was used at multiple locations in 100 Mile House

Graduates invited to participate in free, mini photo shoots May 27-28

The Williams Lake Dry Grad Committee is promoting an all inclusive, mini photo shoot

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

Most Read