By Josh Bell
At the 2014 Olympics, Ottawa was represented by two long track speed skaters, Vincent De Haitre and Ivanie Blondin. At the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, those same two will be joined by a third, fellow Gloucester Concorde Isabelle Weidemann.
With Weidemann attending her first Olympics with De Haitre and Blondin, who are both headed to their second Games, they provide a measuring stick for her own performance.
“It’s pretty cool [to head to Pyeongchang with them],” Weidemann starts, “We’re all from the same club in Ottawa. Ivanie and I compete directly against each other in the same distances, so we have a good partnership. We push each other.”
While at the same time, heading to the Games with two sophomore competitors also gives Weidemann someone to go to with questions, “They’re amazing athletes; some of the best in the world at what they do. I want to learn as much as I can about what to expect and how to compete well. They know the secrets,” she laughs.
For Weidemann, the Olympic qualification is a lot of hard work paying off, and a dream coming true, “It’s so, so exciting. I am extremely honoured to represent Canada, it’s something I’ve been working towards for a while.”
Weidemann locked in her spot on the Olympic team after she concluded the 2018 Long Track Team Selections by winning the 5000m with a time of 7:00.64 and finishing second in the 3000m with a time of 4:05.01, just behind Blondin’s 4:04.31.
Now with the Games fast approaching, Weidemann is trying not to set expectations for herself, and instead just take in the Olympic experience.
“We’ve been training hard ramping up into the games, so I’m looking forward to tapping off the work load and competing,” the 22-year-old explains, “I’m a little nervous, but who isn’t. Mostly I’m just super excited to experience it all.”
That hard work ramping up has paid off for Weidemann, who set personal bests for herself in all of her distances. On top of this, Weidemann had a stellar season, with two bronze medals in World Cup competitions in the Team Pursuit, two 1st place finishes at the Fall World Cups Selection in the 3000m and 5000m, and her best World Cup finish in the 5000m in Stavanger, Norway, finishing 4th. However, Weidemann claims this advance in her speed skating career is just part of the development.
“I’d like to think it’s part of my growth as an athlete,” Weidemann explains, “The goal is to get faster and faster every year; setting personal bests in the distances that I specialize in. Every year, as I gain more experience, I train slightly differently. The programs become more specific to the distances that I do.”
Weidemann has been speed skating ever since she was 12-years-old, with a family friend getting her and her brother and sister into the sport. “It’s awesome to have family in the sport. My brother and I often cycle together. A family friend introduced us all to the sport, and my parents signed us all up.”
Now, about a decade after her introduction to the sport, Weidemann is seeing her dreams come true. While she takes this step in her career, she won’t be taking it alone. “I’m very fortunate that my family will be traveling to support me in South Korea.” She says, “I’ve got quite a few teammates, not on the Olympic team, that will be heading out as well.”
Mon., Feb. 19, Women’s Team Pursuit Qualification, 6 a.m.
Wed., Feb. 21 Team Pursuit Finals 6 a.m.