Valérie Maltais builds off last season’s progress, surprises with gold medal result in women’s 3000m
CALGARY, ALBERTA – The opening day of the 2023 Canadian Long Track Championships presented by Intact Insurance saw four different skaters – Carolina Hiller, Laurent Dubreuil, Valérie Maltais and Ted-Jan Bloemen – earn a national title at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.
Carolina Hiller (Prince George, B.C.) kicked the competition off Thursday by racing to her second straight national title in the women’s 500m. The 26-year-old, who made her World Cup debut last season, came out ahead of 24 competitors with a winning time of 38.49. She was joined on the podium by Jenna Larter (Brookfield, P.E.I.), who set a new personal best time of 38.87, and Brooklyn McDougall (Calgary, Alta.), who finished third with a time of 38.91.
Laurent Dubreuil (Lévis, Que.) followed things up by cruising to yet another Canadian Championship crown in the men’s 500m. The reigning World Championship silver medalists in the distance stopped the clock in 34.54, placing him ahead of Joshua Telizyn (Fort St. John, B.C.), who eclipsed the 35-second mark for the first time in his career with a time of 34.83, and Calgary’s Anders Johnson, whose time of 35.14 helped him improve drastically on last year’s sixth-place result.
After earning a career-best fifth place result in the women’s 3000m at the ISU World Championships in Heerenveen last March, Valérie Maltais (La Baie, Que.) kept the momentum going by skating to victory in the distance at the national-level with a time of 4:02.84. She was joined on the podium by longtime Team Pursuit teammates Isabelle Weidemann (Ottawa, Ont.) and Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, Ont.), who skated season best times of 4:04.76 and 4:06.09, respectively. It marked only the second national title of Maltais long track career, having also captured 1000m gold in 2021.
Veteran national team member Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, Alta.) finished the first day of action off by crushing his competition in the men’s 5000m. The 37-year-old’s gold medal winning time of 6:18.95 was nearly seven seconds quicker than second-place finisher Connor Howe (Canmore, Alta.), who reached the 5000m national podium for the first time in his career thanks to a time of 6:25.93. Graeme Fish (Moose Jaw, Sask.) earned the bronze medal with a time of 6:26.79.
The 2023 Canadian Long Track Championships presented by Intact Insurance continues Friday, where national titles will be up for grabs in the men’s and women’s 1000m, women’s 5000m and men’s 10,000m. The races will be live streamed starting at 10:00am MT on Speed Skating Canada’s YouTube channel, as well as on CBC Sports digital platforms.
“This feels great. Two years ago, I never thought that I would be on the podium, let alone be Canadian Champion two years in a row. I’m just so proud of myself and excited for the rest of the season. There are some technical things that I want to improve on tomorrow that I kind of messed up today, so I’m looking forward to that.”
“I’m really happy to have won the Canadian Championship title again this year! It was not my best race or my fastest time, but I’ve been dealing with a knee injury for the past month and a half. A time of 34.50 on a day when the ice was not necessarily the fastest is still pretty good. It’s a great way to kick off the season and I’m going to use the next month to get myself into World Cup shape.”
“I am very happy with my race and that I was able to follow my tactical plan today. Being pre-qualified changes the mental approach a little bit, but it also provides an opportunity to practice some things. Training this summer went very well. I had a few hiccups and some minor injuries, but I was able to remain focused on training and the season ahead in order to arrive in Calgary in optimal shape. My objective was clear – to work on things technically and tactically to become a better 3000m skater.”
“I’m really happy to be Canadian Champion again. I’m not quite as ready as I usually am to race this time of year because of the training plan I’ve adopted, so I’m happy I could perform like this today. The race was a bit of a weird one with some really fast laps at the end. I felt heavy in the beginning and couldn’t really push myself hard enough for a really fast 5km, so I decided to play it smart and wait for three kilometres left to see what I had in the bank. There’s some really interesting competitions coming up. We’ve got some 5000m in Salt Lake City, which could be an opportunity for a world record, and then we’ve got the World Championship at home in Calgary, which obviously I’m looking forward to the most. That’s also why I changed my training program. I want to be at my best in February, not right now.”