Weidemann, Kingsbury win Canada’s first medals at the Beijing Games

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BEIJING — Canada made an early mark on the medal table at the Beijing Olympics when speed skater Isabelle Weidemann took bronze in the women’s 3,000 meters on Saturday. The 26-year-old from Ottawa finished with a time of three minutes 58.

BEIJING — Canada made an early mark on the medal table at the Beijing Olympics when speed skater Isabelle Weidemann took bronze in the women’s 3,000 meters on Saturday.

The 26-year-old from Ottawa finished the ice ribbon oval in three minutes and 58.64 seconds.

The women’s 3,000s was the second event at the Games to award medals. Weidemann received her equipment shortly after Therese Johaug of Norway became Beijing’s first gold medalist in the women’s 15-kilometer cross-country skiathlon.

Weidemann had the lead in the final pairing of the 3,000 but was eclipsed by gold medalist Irene Schouten of the Netherlands, who finished with an Olympic record time of 3:56.93, and silver medalist Francesca Lollobrigida of Italy.

It is Canada’s first long-distance speed skating medal since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“I’m pretty overwhelmed. I was very nervous today but was so happy with how the race went and taking home a medal,” she said. “I was shaky at the start and after four laps I could feel the fight.

“I have a big family here and so many friends and co-workers, people who have believed in me for so long. I’m so happy to bring something back to them.”

Weidemann came to Beijing as a medal contender in both the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. She has been on the podium at three World Cups this season, winning silver in Poland, Norway and Calgary.

Her worst result was a fourth place finish in the 3,000 at Salt Lake City.

Canada added to its medal tally later on Saturday when reigning Olympic champion Mikael Kingsbury took silver in the men’s moguls.

Kingsbury completed a near-clean run and his 82.18 was the most points anyone had scored over the five rounds of the event and seemingly clinched back-to-back gold medals for the Canadian freestyle skiing legend.

But then Swede Walter Wallberg surpassed Kingsbury’s score by more than a point in the last heat of the Superfinal.

“Walter put in the best run of the day under pressure and supported him,” said Kingsbury. “I’m also very proud of him for becoming part of our small group of Olympic champions.”

Late Saturday, Canada missed a medal opportunity in the short track speed skating mixed relay.

Hosts China clinched their first gold at the Games with a winning time of 2:37.34 ahead of Italy, who took silver in 2:37.36.

Canada appeared to have finished third ahead of Hungary in the four-team final but were later penalized after a collision between Canada’s Florence Brunelle and Hungary’s Zsofia Konya was checked on lap 10 of the 18-lap 2,000m race.

Hungary was awarded bronze, while Canadian team Brunelle, Kim Boutin, Steven Dubois and Jordan Pierre-Gilles, who had finished first in the semifinals, missed the podium. The penalty dropped Canada to sixth overall behind the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, who finished 1–2 in the B final.

In women’s hockey, Canada improved to 2-0 with a dominant 11-1 win over Finland.

Canada’s offensive outburst included hat-tricks from Sarah Nurse and Brianne Jenner, while Sarah Fillier and Laura Stacey both scored two goals.

Natalie Spooner had four assists to give her nine points in two games.

“Certainly don’t expect to score that many goals in every game, but the way we’re coming on offense is great to see,” Jenner said.

The Canadians collected the points without prolific striker Melodie Daoust, who injured her right arm after being hit hard in the rink in Thursday’s 12-1 win over Switzerland at the start of the tournament.

Their status is “daily” and Daoust is expected to return to the lineup later in the tournament.

Next up for Canada is a date with the Russians on Monday, followed by a showdown with arch-rivals the Americans on Tuesday.

In mixed curling, Canada’s John Morris and Rachel Homan split in two games on Saturday, losing 6-2 to Sweden before hitting back to beat the United States 7-2.

“It was a struggle. The Americans are really a great team and they can take any shot. So we had to give them everything we had,” Homan said.

The Canadians are now 4-2 in the round robin.

In slopestyle snowboarding, 2018 silver medalist Laurie Blouin finished seventh in qualifying and advanced to Sunday’s final.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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