CALGARY — Striving for the perfect speedskating stride motivates Ted-Jan Bloemen after achieving the pinnacle of his sport.
Winner of Olympic gold in the 10,000 metres and silver in the 5,000 at the 2018 Olympic Games, the Calgarian said it took some time after those games to reset and regain his drive.
“You’re always dreaming of this Olympic gold medal and then suddenly you hold it in your hand and you’ve got to find something else to skate for,” Bloemen told The Canadian Press.
“If you break down the speedskating technique, you’ll see it’s a really complicated thing so there’s always something new to learn.
“That’s where my motivation comes from. When I’m fit and I’m skating well, it feels so awesome to skate. The speed comes so easy. You feel like king of the world.”
Bloemen was second in Saturday’s 5-kilometre event on his home track at the Olympic Oval. It was his first World Cup medal this season in an individual distance.
The 33-year-old threw his arms in the air and let out a yell after crossing the finish line in six minutes 7.42 seconds.
Bloemen was narrowly beaten by two hundredths of a second by Patrick Roest of the Netherlands, who skated in a later pairing.
“I was so happy to get that race today,” Bloemen said. “I’d been running behind a little bit all season.
“This is how I want to race and I felt strong in this race. It’s good to know you can still do it.”
Graeme Fish of Moose Jaw, Sask., was third racing the fastest 5k of his career.
“It was kind of the first time this year that I left it all on the ice in the 5k,” Fish said. “I was a bit more aggressive.
“Ted, just to be close to him, he had a really good race and it was cool for sure.”
Three Canadians placed in the top five with Toronto’s Jordan Belchos finishing fifth.
Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin bounced back from a disappointing 3,000 metres Friday to take second in the 1,500 behind winner Miho Takagi of Japan.
Blondin broke Cindy Klassen’s 15-year-old Canadian record with a time of 1:51.76.
“It’s huge for me,” Blondin said. “I’ve always admired her as a person and an athlete. I had the opportunity to train with her when I was younger and learned a lot from her, so thank you Cindy.”
Unable to find a firm foothold in the powerhouse Dutch speedskating system, Bloemen moved to Calgary in 2014 to train with the Canadian team at the oval.
His father’s birthplace of Bathurst, N.B., was an avenue for Bloemen to compete for Canada, but Bloemen also obtained his Canadian citizenship and married his Dutch wife Marlinde in Calgary.
The couple have a daughter, Fiene, who was born in September.
Bloemen needed a break after beating legendary Dutchman Sven Kramer in Olympic-record time for 10k gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
He and Marlinde backpacked in Asia for two months that summer, which put a dent in training for the 2018-19 season.
“I was never expecting to be winning races last season,” Bloemen said. “I just saw it as a step up for this season and the next couple of years towards the next Olympics.
“This way I kind of gave myself the space to slowly, naturally gain back my motivation.”
Bloemen holds world records in both the 5k and the 10k, but hovered just off the podium in those distances this season until Saturday.
“It’s been a little different season because shortly before the season I became a dad,” he said. “It was hard to focus on training and racing, not in a bad way. There’s a lot of love and happiness I get at home.”
The Calgary World Cup was a tune up for the world single distance championship in Salt Lake City starting Thursday when Bloemen competes in the 5k. The men’s 10k is Saturday.
Blondin will be a busy woman in Salt Lake racing the 5,000, 3,000 and 1,500 metres, as well as the mass start and team pursuit.
The mass start, in which all competitors start at the same time and jockey for position over 16 laps, and the 1.5k are on the same day Feb. 16.
“It’s going to be a really hard day to go through the fifteen hundred and the mass start,” Blondin said. “Hopefully there’s enough time in between to recover.
“I’ve done it in the past and I’ve shown that I’m able to do it. There’s multiple girls in the same boat.”