Weidemann ties career high at speed skating worlds, placing 4th in women’s 5,000m

It was a Sunday of career- and season-best performances for Canada’s men and women speed skaters at the ISU world championships following a recent stretch of podium finishes.

With the Canadian medal count at five this week, Ottawa’s Isabelle Weidemann came closest to the podium on this day, clocking six minutes 56.181 seconds to place fourth in the lone women’s 5,000-metre race of the season, matching a career high.

“It obviously wasn’t the result I was hoping for but there were a lot of positives,” the 25-year-old said from Heerenveen, Netherlands. “Not a single lap came easy today but sometimes it doesn’t. I’m excited to reassess and start the Olympic year.”

Teammate Valerie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., also delivered a career best effort, finishing seventh in 7:05.830.

Maltais (1:57.417) and Quebec City’s Béatrice Lamarche (1:58.995) posted their fastest times of the season in the women’s 1500, placing them 13th and 16th, respectively, both career highs. Teammate Abigail McCluskey of Penticton, B.C., finished 21st in 2:01.255.

“This morning,” she said, “I wasn’t sure if my health was going to be good enough following my crash in yesterday’s mass start but I’m very happy how my races went. I have to work on my 1,500-metre opener, something I wasn’t able to this season.

“In the 5,000, I just tried to stick with [winner] Irene [Schouten] for as long as I could.”

‘I was pretty tired in the last lap’

Schouten, who earned a bronze medal in Saturday’s mass start, was crowned world champion Sunday after a personal-best time of 6:48.537. Russia’s Natalia Voronina and Dutch teammate Carlijn Achtereekte.

In men’s action, Connor Howe of Canmore, Alta., turned in a season-best time of 1:45.860 in the 1,500 to finish a career-high sixth, only 36-100ths of a second off the bronze medal pace set by Patrick Roest of the Netherlands. Kjeld Nuis and Thomas Krol led a Dutch sweep of the podium.

The 20-year-old Howe’s ranking was the highest for a Canadian in the event since Vincent De Haitre was fourth in 2017.

“It gives me motivation for next year,” Howe said. “My plan was to be aggressive from the start and hold on to some good speed into the second lap, and I accomplished that. I could have gone much faster; I was pretty tired in the last lap.”

Graeme Fish of Moose Jaw, Sask., lost his world record of 12:33.86 in the 10,000 from last year’s championships in Salt Lake City as Sweden’s Nils van der Poel crossed the finish in 12:32.949.

WATCH | Nils van der Poel makes history in men’s 10,000m:

The Swedish skater captures gold and sets a new record on the final day of the speed skating world championships in Heerenveen, Germany. 1:23

Calgary’s Ted-Jan Bloemen, the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder from 2015 to 2020, was the fastest Canadian on Sunday, finishing sixth in 13:08.252. Toronto’s Jordan Belchos was eighth in 13:11.082.

Canada also earned nine World Cup medals during the condensed international season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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