Canada's Isabelle Weidemann wins 2nd Olympic speed skating medal in Beijing

Speed skater Isabelle Weidemann, Canada's first athlete to reach the podium at Beijing 2022, is also its first double medallist.

Ottawa skater scores silver in women's 5,000 metres, won bronze in 3,000 Saturday

Isabelle Weidemann, left, reacts after skating during the women's 5000-metre final at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Speed Skating Oval on Thursday in Beijing, China. (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Speed skater Isabelle Weidemann, Canada's first athlete to reach the podium at Beijing 2022, is also its first double medallist.

The tall, powerful athlete from Ottawa turned a six-minute 48.18-second performance into silver in the women's 5,000 metres on Thursday night after earning long track bronze in the 3,000 at the Ice Ribbon oval last Saturday.

Weidemann fell 1.37 seconds shy of her national record, which she lowered to 6:46.81 at the Canadian long track championships four months ago in Calgary.

"I'm so excited. I'm overjoyed," Weidemann told The Canadian Press. "Winning a medal earlier in the week I thought was the top of it, so this is also very exciting. I was hoping the 3,000 wasn't a fluke."

Four years ago, the 26-year-old was seventh in the 5,000 and sixth in the 3,000 at the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea.

WATCH | Weidemann threatens Canadian mark in Olympic silver performance:

Canadian Isabelle Weidemann claims speed skating silver in 5,000m

6 months ago
Duration 8:26
Weidemann added to her bronze in the 3,000m after posting a time of 6:48.18 in the 5,000m.

Irene Schouten crossed the line in an Olympic record 6:43.51 on Thursday, shattering German Claudia Pechstein's 6:46.91 set at altitude 20 years ago in Salt Lake City, and giving the Netherlands its fourth gold in five speed skating events in Beijing.

"Schouten is incredible," said Weidemann, a four-time medallist on the World Cup circuit. "Just watching her skate, she takes the level up so much. I hope in the future I can push her time and push the event even more. The faster more women can go, the better."

Schouten won her first career Olympic gold in Saturday's 3,000 in a Games record 3:56.93 and joins a select group as the sixth woman to win both races at the same Winter Olympics.

Two-time Olympic 5,000 champion Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic, who accomplished the feat in Vancouver 12 years ago, went 6:50.09 for a bronze medal in Thursday's competition.

"There was not so much pressure," Schouten said. "In the 3K, there was a lot of pressure. In the 5K, it was more like, 'I have the Olympic gold. Now I can just skate fast."'

When I saw the time of Isabelle, I was like 'Oh [s--t] that's really fast. But then I skated and I felt really good.— Olympic gold medallist Irene Schouten on the 5,000-metre final

Schouten skated at a comfortable pace early in the 5,000, essentially matching Weidemann's pace from the previous pairing.

But the 29-year-old Dutchwoman really turned it on at the end, eclipsing 32 seconds on her last five trips around the oval. Amazingly, the final lap of the grueling event was her fastest (31.18).

"When I saw the time of Isabelle, I was like 'Oh [s--t] that's really fast,'" Schouten said. "But then I skated and I felt really good. I could go every lap faster and faster."

Pechstein, 49, finished last in 20th as the oldest speed skater in the Beijing competition and oldest female Winter Olympian of all-time. One of Germany's flag-bearers at the opening ceremony, the seven-time medallist is also the first-ever female Olympian to compete in eight Winter Games.

WATCH | Weidemann captures Canada's 1st medal at Beijing 2022:

Isabelle Weidemann captures bronze for Canada's 1st medal of Beijing 2022

6 months ago
Duration 5:30
Ottawa speed skater Isabelle Weidemann wins the bronze medal in the women's 3000m event at Beijing 2022 with a time of 3:58.64.

Russian Olympic Committee's Natalia Voronina, who grabbed bronze in 2018, was sixth (6:56.99) in the field of 12. She is the most recent skater to defeat Schouten in the 5,000 in 2020.

In Thursday's final, the longest women's speed skating race at the Olympics, six pairs skated 12 ½ laps around the 400-metre oval in an individual time trial, not against each other. Each skater gets one chance to set the fastest time.

Weidemann, who skated with 21-year-old Norwegian Ragne Wiklund, reached 2,600 metres in 3:33.85, 17-100ths of a second ahead of then-leader Voronina with six laps remaining.

The Canadian extended the margin to 1.56 seconds with three laps to and 2.14 entering the final lap, finishing 1.91 seconds in front of Sablikova, who picked up her seventh career Olympic podium. The 34-year-old had been tied with cross-country skier Katerina Neumannova.

"I really emptied the tank today. I gave all my energy," Weidemann said. "I felt powerful going to the line. The 5K is something that's very special to me. It's the event that I love the most."

4-medal day

According to Postmedia, Weidemann spent more time in the gym after the completion of the World Cup season in an effort to add muscle and worked with a nutritionist.

"I've been managing expectations on myself by just ensuring that I can get to the Games and be as healthy as possible, as mentally fresh as possible … not burnt out," she said in January.

"In the past few years, I performed really well in the fall World Cups and then [got] to February, end of January, and really not performed where I wanted to be."

Weidemann's silver was the second of the day for Canada following Eliot Grondin's effort in snowboard cross. Skier Jack Crawford (men's alpine combined) added bronze, as did freestyle skiers in mixed team aerials, giving Canada 12 medals at these Games.

Weidemann will begin her quest for another medal when the women's team pursuit begins Saturday with quarter-final action at 3 a.m. ET.

Ivanie Blondin, Josie Morrison and Weidemann placed fourth at the 2018 Olympics in 2:59.72, 45-100ths behind the United States for bronze in the B final. Valérie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., replaces Morrison in Beijing, while Alexa Scott of Clandeboye, Man., is an alternate.

In women's team pursuit, two teams of three skaters begin in the middle straights on opposite sides of the oval and skate six laps in single-elimination races.

WATCH | Full event replay: Women's 5,000m final:

Canada's Beijing 2022 medallists

Gold

  • Max Parrot, men's snowboard slopestyle

Silver

  • Isabelle Weidemann, long track women's 5,000 metres
  • Steven Dubois, short track men's 1,500m
  • Mikael Kingsbury, men's freestyle skiing — moguls
  • Eliot Grondin, men's snowboard cross

Bronze

  • Isabelle Weidemann, women's speed skating 3000m
  • Mark McMorris, men's snowboard slopestyle
  • Ski jumping mixed team
  • Kim Boutin, women's short track 500m
  • Meryeta Odine, women's snowboard cross
  • James Crawford, men's alpine combined
  • Aerials mixed team

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Faceoff.com. Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

With files from The Associated Press

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