Canadian speedskater Isabelle Weidemann captures gold at World Cup

MINSK, Belarus — Isabelle Weidemann kicked off the World Cup speedskating season with a victory, highlighting a three-medal day for Canada on Friday.

Weidemann, from Ottawa, won the women’s 3,000 metres. Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin also was on the podium, finishing third.

Calgary’s Gilmore Junio, Laurent Dubreuil of Levis, Que., and David La Rue of Saint-Lambert, Que., gave Canada another bronze in the men’s team sprint event.

Weidemann finished in four minutes 4.679 seconds, beating out Carlijn Achtereekte of the Netherlands (4:05.153) and Blondin (4:06.080).

“It feels really great to start the season off with a first place,” Weidemann said. “I was very nervous for today, so it was nice to get the first one of the circuit out of the way. I’m excited to continue on to next weekend.”

Weidemann and Blondin finished fourth and fifth, respectively, last season in the World Cup standings for long distances.

Weidemann won a gold and silver last season in the 3,000, while Blondin’s best result in the distance was fourth in 2019.

“My race went really well,” Blondin said. “I started off fast — relative to this ice — and I died a little bit more than I wanted to at the end.

“It was still a good race and I was happy to share the podium with Isabelle today. I think it was a magical moment for both of us. I was definitely expecting these results coming off trials and based off of how I was feeling in training. Last year was a bit of a dip year, but this year I’m back to normal. I feel good on the ice, strong and motivated.”

The Netherlands and China finished ahead of Canada in the men’s team sprint.

It marked the first career World Cup medal for La Rue, who has been on the senior circuit since the 2017-2018 season.

“Winning my first medal after two years on the World Cup circuit is a great feeling,” La Rue said. “We executed our race strategy very well, and while there are certainly improvements that we can make, I think we can be satisfied with our work.”

Meanwhile, Graeme Fish of Moose Jaw, Sask., was fifth in the men’s 5,000 and Calgary’s Kaylin Irvine, Winnipeg’s Heather McLean and Marsha Hudey of White City, Sask., were fifth in the women’s team sprint.

Racing continues on Saturday.

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