Canadian long track speed skaters made their return to Calgary’s Olympic Oval on Wednesday for the first day of national trials, where four champions including Olympic gold medallist Ted-jan Bloemen and rising star Isabelle Weidemann were crowned.
Bloemen, 35, cruised to victory in the 5,000 metres with a time of six minutes 6.69 seconds, well ahead of second-place Graeme Fish at 6:13.31 and third-place Jordan Belchos at 6:18.94.
Bloemen, a Dutch Canadian who began competing for Canada in 2014, won silver in the event at the 2018 Olympics after setting a world record of 6:01.86 in the distance at the 2017 world championships.
Both skaters appear poised to climb multiple podiums at the 2022 Olympics, which begin on Feb. 4.
Weidemann, meanwhile, is on a revenge tour after her Pyeongchang experience went somewhat sideways with a fourth-place finish in the team pursuit to go with sixth- and seventh-place finishes in individual races.
But the Ottawa native topped a strong field in the 3,000 on Wednesday, crossing the finish line in 3:56.89. Ivanie Blondin, 31, placed second at 3:59.99 while Valerie Maltais was third at 4:01.23.
Fellow 2018 Olympian Laurent Dubreuil was victorious in the men’s 500 with his time of 34.12 seconds, less than one-tenth of a tick off Jeremy Wotherspoon’s national record. Gilmore Junio (34.59) and Cedrick Brunet (34.97) were the only other skaters to crack the 35-second mark.
Dubreuil, a 29-year-old from Levis, Que., finished 18th in the event in Pyeongchang after taking bronze at the 2015 single distance championships.
Finally, 23-year-old Brooklyn McDougall held off Marsha Hudey, 31, by hundredths of a second to take the women’s 500 crown with a time of 37.851 seconds. Hudey was just behind at 37.856, with Kaylin Irvine placing third at 37.93.
Live coverage from Calgary continues on CBCSports.ca on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET with the women’s 5,000 and men’s 10,000.
WATCH | Day 1 of the long track national championships: