Heather McLean skates around a curve in a speed skating race

Heather McLean


Heather McLean made her World Cup debut in 2013-14, competing in the first two stops of the circuit. The following season she was on the World Cup roster full time and competed at both the World Single Distances Championships and World Sprint Championships. 

McLean had a breakout season in 2015-16, earning her first individual World Cup medal, a 500m bronze, in Inzell, Germany in December. She added two more 500m bronzes before the season was done, including one at the World Cup Final in Heerenveen, Netherlands with her parents in attendance. At the World Sprint Championships that year, she finished second in one of the 500m races. 

But that summer, something felt off as she tried to resume training. Emotionally exhausted and unmotivated, she was eventually diagnosed with anxiety and depression. In researching how to cope with mental illness, she realized the importance of being honest about her feelings and now focuses a lot on recovery and self-care. With that fresh mindset, McLean posted her career-best finish at the World Single Distances Championships in 2017 when she finished fifth in the 500m at the Gangneung Oval in PyeongChang to be Canada’s top skater in the event.  She was also the top Canadian woman at the 2017 World Sprint Championships with her career-best seventh-place finish. 

McLean had served as a forerunner at Vancouver 2010, skating around the Richmond Olympic Oval to test the timing system before each event, an experience she has called the “most amazing three weeks” of her life. She made her official Olympic debut at PyeongChang 2018 where she competed in the 500m and 1000m. 

McLean won her first career medal at the World Single Distances Championships in 2019 when she captured silver with the team sprint. In January 2021, she earned her first individual World Cup medal in five years when she won a 500m bronze in the bubble in Heerenveen. She went on to post her best individual result in four years at the World Single Distances Championships, finishing seventh in the 500m. While others might have struggled with the isolation forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, McLean believes she thrived while training on her own in 2020 as she built up her self-confidence and realized she was the only one who could push her to achieve her goals. She made her second Olympic appearance at Beijing 2022, competing in the 500m. 

A Little More About Heather

Getting into the Sport: Started skating at age 2 and followed her older brothers into competitive speed skating a year later… Training on an outdoor oval in Winnipeg, practice would be split into mini sessions where they would do a couple of laps before going inside to warm up their feet and drink hot chocolate before heading out into the bitter cold again; their cheeks and noses were covered in Vaseline to prevent frostbite… Had her dream of competing for Team Canada sparked by watching speed skating greats such as Catriona Le May Doan, Susan Auch and Cindy Klassen compete on TV… Outside Interests: Enrolled in sociology at the University of Calgary… Interested in a career in nursing or health and wellness, specifically nutrition… Does a lot of cooking/baking and thinks it would be fun to host a cooking show… Ambassador for Fast and Female…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
2018 PyeongChangSpeed Skating - Long Track500m - Women14
2018 PyeongChangSpeed Skating - Long Track1,000m - Women25
2022 BeijinigSpeed Skating - Long Track500m - Women27

Notable International Results

Olympic Winter Games: 2022 - 27th (500m); 2018 - 14th (500m), 25th (1000m)

ISU World Single Distances Championships: 2021 - 7th (500m), 9th (1000m); 2020 - 14th (500m), 19th (1000m); 2019 - 10th (500m), 12th (1000m), SILVER (team sprint); 2017 - 5th (500m), 19th (1000m); 2016 - 9th (500m), 23rd (mass start); 2015 - 22nd (500m)

ISU World Sprint Championships: 2020 - 16th (overall); 2019 - 12th (overall); 2017 - 7th (overall); 2016 - 12th (overall); 2015 - 23rd (overall)