Isabelle Weidemann lowers national 5k record at Canadian speed skating trials

·3 min read
Canada's Isabelle Weidemann, seen above in Feb. 2020, set a national record in the 5,000 metres at the Canadian long track speed skating championships on Thursday in Calgary. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press - image credit)
Canada's Isabelle Weidemann, seen above in Feb. 2020, set a national record in the 5,000 metres at the Canadian long track speed skating championships on Thursday in Calgary. (Rick Bowmer/The Associated Press - image credit)

Isabelle Weidemann is making an early impression at the Canadian long track speed skating championships at Calgary's Olympic Oval.

Weidemann skated to a national record in the 5,000 metres on Thursday with her time of six minutes 46.81 seconds, besting her previous mark of 6:47.34 set in 2019.

It's a second straight day of success for the Ottawa native, who beat out a competitive 3,000-metre field to win on the opening day of trials on Wednesday.

The national championships help finalize the Canadian team members for the upcoming season, which includes the Beijing Olympics that begin on Feb. 4.

WATCH | Weidemann sets Canadian record:

Laura Hall, an 18-year-old from Salmon Arm, B.C., was Weidemann's lone competitor, clocking in at 7:22.61.

But Weidemann skated alone on the track.

"I skate sometimes a little bit better when I'm alone, can focus on myself a lot more in the first few laps and make sure that I'm being efficient and following my technical cues. Definitely gets hard when I start to suffer a little bit," she said in a post-race interview with CBC Sports' Anastasia Bucsis.

For Weidemann it's the perfect start to a season in which she hopes to avenge her Olympic disappointment of 2018 where she placed fourth in the team pursuit while collecting sixth- and seventh-place finishes in individual events.

Meanwhile, Ted-Jan Bloemen joined Weidemann in collecting his second victory of trials.

Bloemen took top spot in the 10,000 — the distance in which he won 2018 Olympic gold — with a track-record time of 12:41.55. The 35-year-old Dutch Canadian previously won the 5,000 on Wednesday in Calgary.

"That was the quite the effort," Bloemen said. "It's so easy in the 10,000 to give into the fatigue, but I tried to just think positively, push through and believe that I could make it to the end. I felt like I was really close to hanging on for the world record, but I still set a track record here today, which feels good.

"I don't want to do anything different this year since I won the gold at the last Olympics in this distance."

Graeme Fish, a 24-year-old who stunned Bloemen in the 10,000 at the 2020 world championships, placed second at 12:49.33, while Jordan Belchos rounded out the field with his time of 13:02.75.

"I'm skating pretty well right now. Obviously it's hard to compare myself to Ted right now who's skating maybe the best he ever has," Fish said.

Bloemen and Fish headline a strong slate of Canadian men's skaters, appearing poised to contend for multiple podiums each in Beijing.

Live coverage from Calgary continues on CBCSports.ca on Friday at 6 p.m. ET with the women's and men's 1,000.

WATCH | Day 2 of the long track national championships:

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