The first day of the 2021 Canadian Long Track Championships presented by Intact Insurance crowned four athletes with the inaugural titles of the 2021-22 season – Brooklyn McDougall in the women’s 500m, Laurent Dubreuil in the men’s 500m, Isabelle Weidemann as women’s 3000m champion and Ted-Jan Bloemen in the men’s 5000m.
McDougall made the most of the first national-level competition at the Olympic Oval in her hometown of Calgary since February 2020, skating a time of 37.851 to come out on top of the field. While Marsha Hudey (White City, SK) crossed the line in a matching time as displayed on the scoreboard, the photo finish result showed her a mere five thousandths of a second behind (37.856). Kaylin Irvine (Calgary, AB) rounded out the podium with a time of 37.93.
As the reigning 500m World Champion, Dubreuil (Lévis, QC) did not disappoint in the opening men’s distance of the Canadian event. He finished the race in 34.12 – only one hundredth of a second off his personal best – to bring home the title. Calgary native Gilmore Junio took second position in the race (34.59) while Québec’s Cédrick Brunet beat out a crowded field of veteran skaters to claim the bronze medal (34.97).
In the women’s 3000m, Weidemann (Ottawa, ON) completed seven and a half laps of the 400m oval in a time of 3:56.89. She was joined on the podium by her partners last season in the Team Pursuit event, fellow Ottawan Ivanie Blondin (3:59.99) and Valérie Maltais of Saguenay, QC (4:01.23). The three will prove to be a medal threat when their talents are combined on the World Cup circuit this year.
The day concluded with a feat of endurance by the men’s long-distance specialists. The 5000m race is half the length of tomorrow’s most grueling event and one in which newly crowned Canadian Champion Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, AB) excels. He crossed the finish line in 6:06.69 after completing twelve and a half laps. The next fastest times came from Graeme Fish (6:13.31) of Moose Jaw, SK and Toronto’s Jordan Belchos (6:18.94).
I’m really excited to be Canadian Champion. It was a good race today and that makes me stoked for the rest of the season. I’ve gained a lot of experience on the World Cup circuit and am now better at performing under pressure. I’m looking forward to bringing what I’ve learned to the upcoming Olympic Games.”
– Isabelle Weidemann
“I’ve been skating really well in training the last month and feeling good all summer. I think I had it in me to be a couple of tenths [of a second] faster today, but the execution wasn’t perfect. It was so close to my personal best even while not feeling great, so that is encouraging. I am building off every year and think that when I’m at my best, I can be the best in the world.”
– Laurent Dubreuil
“Right now, I’m still a little bit overwhelmed by the race and am so happy that I was able to put that together and race as fast as I did. My motto going forward is to keep it simple and skate the way I know how to skate. This will be my first experience on the World Cup circuit so I am looking forward to learning from my teammates and the veterans on our team.”
– Brooklyn McDougall