Lausanne, Switzerland


Canada is aiming for a milestone at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. The North American Speed Skating powerhouse needs one more gold to claim its tenth Olympic long track title. At this season’s four World Cups, the Canadian team showed greater depth than the selection four years ago at PyeonChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games when Ted-Jan Bloemen was the only Canadian medalist.

Ted Jan Bloemen (CAN)  Medal Ceremony for Speed Skating PyeongChang 2018 @Dan Istiten 919889010

Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN) celebrates during the Medal Ceremony for Speed Skating - Men's 10,000m of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, South Korea @Dan Istiten

Long distance power

Bloemen won silver in the 5000m and gold in the 10,000m four years ago. Having grown up in the Netherlands, the 35-year-old stems from an All-round tradition with more focus on the longer distances than usual in the historically Sprint-oriented Canadian men’s Speed Skating squad. Together with coach Bart Schouten (NED), who has been coach with Canada’s long track team since the 2010/11 season, Bloemen inspired a new generation, with Graeme Fish following him on the long distance path. In 2020 the student surpassed the master, when Fish broke Bloemen’s 10,000m world record to become World Champion in Salt Lake City.

Graeme Fish Ted Jan Bloemen Patrick Beckert ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships Salt Lake City 2020@ISU 1200845789

Ted-Jan Bloemen (CAN), Graeme Fish (CAN) and Patrick Beckert (GER) stand on the podium after the men's 10000 meter during the 2020 ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Salt Lake City, United States © International Skating Union (ISU)

With Fish and Bloemen, Canada has two strong contenders in the long distances, but Fish’s first half of the season was hampered by a COVID-19 infection, which forced him out of the Stavanger, Salt Lake City and Calgary ISU World Cup events in November and December 2021. Bloemen  was not able to challenge World Champion Nils van der Poel in the World Cups, but the Olympic 10,000m champion will not give up his title without a fight in Beijing.

“With my preseason races, I already knew that my training has been good, my body is strong and my technique is flawless, so I’m confident going into the second half of the season,” Bloemen said after he finished third behind Van der Poel and Italy’s Davide Ghiotto in the 5000m at the World Cup in Calgary on December 10.

Dubreuil better than ever

Laurent Dubreuil took up the Canadian sprint heritage when he seized the 500m World title in Heerenveen (NED) last season. The 29-year-old from Quebec continued his winning ways this season. With two gold, two silver and four bronze medals he was on the podium in all eight 500m World Cup races, and he shattered Jeremy Wotherspoon’s mythical 14-year-old Canadian record (34.03s) at the World Cup in Calgary on December 10, when he finished in 33.77s.

Dubreuil skates better than ever. “There’s a couple of reasons, physically and mentally,” he says. “(I put) more emphasis on weight training, (and took) more rest. It’s a dream come true: train less and skate faster.”

“And also: I started getting good when I became a dad (in July 2019). That takes away some pressure, because it puts things in perspective. Before skating was the most important thing in my life. If skating was bad, I felt bad, if skating was good I felt good about myself. But now, if I have a bad race I don’t care too much. I know when I’m going to call my daughter later today, she’s not going to care.”

Women hope to end Olympic draught

While Bloemen and the retired Denny Morrison (1000m silver, 1500m bronze in Sochi) seized Olympic medals in 2018 and 2014, Canada’s women have been on an Olympic medal draught since Christine Nesbitt (1000m gold) and Kristina Groves (3000m bronze) took silverware at the home games in Vancouver 2010.

With Isabelle Weidemann leading the women’s long distance ranking and Ivanie Blondin on top of the Mass Start standings after four events into the current World Cup season, the Canadian womenlook good heading towards the Beijing Olympics. Their best bet for gold may be the Team Pursuit, in which Weidemann and Blondin are joined by Valérie Maltais. Last December Weidemann, Blondin and Maltais collected their third consecutive Team Pursuit World Cup trophy, winning the third and final race in a Canadian and a track record of 2:52.06 in Calgary, thus concluding the World Cup season unbeaten.

“We've been consistent now for quite a few years, and that gives us a lot of confidence.” Weidemann said after the Calgary race. She and her teammates are looking forward to Beijing:

“We're excited for sure. The team is a little bit nervous, but we've got quite a few weeks left to work on things, to tidy things up and to put in some good training. It's always pleasure skating with these girls, so hopefully we can just go in and think of it that way.”