A total of 19 long track speed skaters have been nominated to represent Canada at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games.
Among the headliners is Ted-Jan Bloemen, who has been ripping it up since he started competing for Canada in 2014. This season, he broke the 5000m world record, adding to the one he already owned in the 10,000m. He also reached the podium in every 5000m/10,000m World Cup race this fall.
“Ever since I became a member of the Canadian long track National Team in 2014, I have felt unconditional support from the team,” said Bloemen. “I’m very grateful every day to be part of this team and the progression I could make because of it. Skating as fast as I am this season is already a dream come true for me. It’s a great honour to represent Canada at my first Olympic Games. My goal is to skate my best races and make Canada proud.”
Ivanie Blondin will be returning to the Olympic track at PyeongChang 2018, this time in an attempt to make Olympic history. Although the mass start will makes its debut, it certainly won’t be new to the two-time world medallist in the event.
Blondin was crowned world champion in the women’s mass start in 2016, a year after she won silver. Last season, she won a bronze medal in women’s 5000m at the ISU World Single Distance Championships. That versatility continued this fall as she won medals at the first four World Cup stages in 2017 in the 3000m, 5000m and mass start.
As a short tracker, Jean captured gold as a member of the 5000m relay team at Vancouver 2010, where he also finished fourth in the 1500m. But after switching over the long track, he proved his skill in the mass start, winning bronze at the 2017 World Single Distances Championships, just his third international mass start race.
Denny Morrison is headed back to the Games after coming back from a devastating motorcycle accident in 2015 and a stroke in 2016. He’s rebounded from that adversity, winning a World Cup silver with the team pursuit in late 2016 and gold in that event in December 2017. He was also encouraged by a fifth-place finish this season in the 1500m.
“Since 2014, I’ve had a lot of challenges and I feel grateful to be able to celebrate every little success since then,” said Morrison. “It’s been a humbling experience after being a medalist at each of my first three Olympic Games, but I’ve taken the steps to get here: getting back on my skates, qualifying for the World Cups, making the time standards for the Olympic Selections and now, qualifying for my fourth Olympic Games. This is great, but with each small step, my goals are progressing and I’m continuing to look forward to the next big steps and furthering my progress yet.”
Morrison is one of Canada’s most decorated long track speed skaters with his four Olympic medals, including one gold, two silver and one bronze.
Of course, one of those medals would not have been possible without the great sportsmanship by teammate Gilmore Junio at Sochi 2014, when he gave up his spot in the 1000m to Morrison. Junio also earned his way onto the PyeongChang 2018 team in the 500m.
Morrison will be joined by his wife, Olympic rookie Josie Morrison. She achieved her international breakthrough in November 2017 when she won her first career World Cup medal, taking bronze as a member of the team pursuit alongside Blondin and Isabelle Weidemann, who will also compete in her first Olympic Games.
Laurent Dubreuil will follow his parent’s Olympic path by making his debut on the big stage in PyeongChang. He became a world medallist in 2014-15, winning bronze in 500m at the World Single Distance Championships. The next season, it was teammate Alex Boisvert-Lacroix who became a world bronze medallist in the shortest distance. Boisvert-Lacroix really put himself on the radar by winning back-to-back World Cup gold medals in the 500m this season.
Like Dubreuil, Marsha Hudey also has speed skating in her bloodline. After following her father, two brothers, and sister into the sport, she skated the 500m at Sochi 2014. This season, she earned her first individual World Cup podium by taking a 500m silver in Norway.
Vincent De Haître is in fast pursuit for the Olympic podium and is breaking Canadian records in the 1000m along the way. After Sochi 2014, he was named Speed Skating Canada’s Long Track Rising Star of the Year. He continued his success by claiming silver in the 1000m at the 2017 World Single Distance Championships.
Other returning athletes from Sochi include Kali Christ, Kaylin Irvine, and Brianne Tutt. Competing at the Olympic Games for the first time will be Jordan Belchos, Heather McLean, Alexandre St-Jean, and Ben Donnelly. Some of the nominated athletes will compete in one more ISU World Cup event, January 19-21, in Erfurt, Germany before heading to PyeongChang.