It has been almost two years since a full international field was present at an ISU World Cup Speed Skating event and the Canadian team wasted no time displaying its strength on Friday in Poland. On the first day of competition in the 2021-22 season, Laurent Dubreuil captured bronze in the men’s 500m, Isabelle Weidemann took silver in the women’s 3000m, and Ted-Jan Bloemen skated to second place in the men’s 5000m.
Dubreuil of Lévis, QC was the first Canadian to reach the podium, crossing the line in 34.687 to earn a bronze medal in the men’s shortest distance. The reigning 500m World Champion was joined on the podium by gold medalist Tingyu Gao of China, who set a new track record of 34.265, and Japan’s Tatsuya Shinhama who skated alongside Dubreuil in the penultimate pair.
Up next was the women’s 3000m. Weidemann lined up against fellow Ottawa native Ivanie Blondin and skated a track record time of 4:05.255 at the Arena Lodowa. Her mark was bested again in the final pair by Dutch skater Irene Schouten (4:04.009). Francesca Lollobrigida of Italy was third. Early in the year, Weidemann appears to be in similar form to the last full World Cup season, when she finished second overall in the long distance rankings.
In the final distance of the day, Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, AB) celebrated after putting down a time of 6:20.941 in the sixth pair of the men’s 5000m. He held onto the lead until the final race of the distance, when Sweden’s Nils van der Poel set a new track record of 6:15.562 to take gold. Bloemen’s silver medal skate was a mere tenth of a second faster than that of bronze medalist Patrick Roest of the Netherlands.
The World Cup continues on Saturday with the second women’s 500m, men’s 1500m, women’s 1000m, men’s mass start and women’s team pursuit. The races will be streamed live on CBC Sports beginning at 8:30am ET.
“I am very happy with my first result today. To start the season with a podium, that’s really ideal. While we are concentrating on our own performance, this proves to me right away that I have the legs to compete with the best all season. It wasn’t a perfect race either, so I can do better by improving my execution. Now that I know for certain that I am in good shape, my goal on Sunday will be to let myself give a bit more effort and skate more relaxed.”
– Laurent Dubreuil
“It was a hard race out there today. The ice is not very forgiving, so I was exhausted by the end. I’m really happy with my performance though, which is a positive start to the season. The season is so long and we’ve been building quite a bit through the last competitions. So I’m trying not to read into this one too much and am looking forward to the Olympics and our team trials at the end of December. That’s when we want to start really picking things up!”
– Isabelle Weidemann
“For me, this World Cup is really exciting. To be back in a ‘normal’ competition with all of the athletes competing is a great feeling. I knew I was in good shape based on my races in the pre-season and training here in Poland, but there is always the question mark about how good the other countries will be. It was fun to find out that I’m doing really well, even on a slower rink, where my reliance on technique isn’t quite as helpful as in fast conditions.”
– Ted-Jan Bloemen