By Josh Bell
For the third Canada Winter Games in a row, a Weidemann will be on the ice for Team Ontario.
In 2011, the eldest of the siblings, Isabelle Weidemann, competed. Her brother Jake Weidemann, skated in 2015, and now it’s time for the youngest of the three, Lily Weidemann, to take on the nation in the 2019 Canada Winter Games. She will be competing in Red Deer, Alta. From Feb. 14 to Feb. 23.
The announcement of the team came back in December, though for the youngest Weidemann it took a little pre-Games luck to make it in
“The last Games were supposed to be my only shot because of the age range,” Lily Weidemann says, “But I didn’t make it. And then this past year they actually pushed the age range back by a year. It was a surprise that I was allowed to compete in it, I wasn’t expecting to be able to get another shot at it.
She’s one of three Ottawa speedsters who are part of Team Ontario’s long track team.
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Once the age range was changed so that Lily Weidemann was eligible again, the Ottawa native felt good about her chances of making the team.
“This year it was my goal to make the team, for sure. But at the same time, with it being a small sport in Ontario, I knew all the other girls that were competing for it, so it was of course nerve-wracking at the trials, but I had my fingers-crossed and a little bit expected it.”
With both of her siblings already having competed in the Canada Games, Lily Weidemann knows that the pressure is on, but it’s nothing that she’s not used to.
“Always when following them, they leave big shoes to fill. They’ve done absolutely incredibly in this sport. But at the same time, I think it’s a little bit reassuring knowing that what they do is possible. It’s not just something that you watch on TV anymore, it’s real,” she said.
Lily Weidemann is in her second year studying communications at the University of Calgary. Once she followed in her siblings’ footsteps and moved to the city where Canada’s national speedskating team trains, her parents decided to make the move as well, which has made things much easier for their youngest.
“It was weird [during last year], you start to miss things. I started to miss things from Ottawa I never would have thought I’d miss. It was very strange going from a club level of speedskating where I was the top female and at the peak of the performance line there and then coming to a place where I am the smallest fish in the sea. I’m skating on the same ice as people who I grew up watching on TV at the Olympics.
“Ottawa will always have a place in my heart, especially the (Gloucester Concordes) Speed Skating Club out there and we also have a cottage not too far outside of Ottawa that we still have, but Calgary is definitely home now.
Our family is quite close so it’s nice to have the family all out here. Also, the skating community also becomes your family. This is where my family is, this is where home is now,” Lily Weidemann said.
The eldest of the Weidemann siblings is coming off of a stellar year which saw her debut at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where she finished 7th in the 3000m, 6th in the 5000m and helped Team Canada to a 4th place finish in the team pursuit. She also won her first ISU World Cup, among many other successful finishes. In her top distance, she’s currently ranked 3rd in the world in the World Cup circuit.
Jake Weidemann is having a great season as well. At the first Canada Cup of the year he finished 1st place in the 1500m, which he’s currently ranked 4th in nationally.
For the youngest, it’s only natural to compare herself to her older siblings.
“I compare myself to them in a lot of ways: academically and in skating.
Sometimes that can be rough, knowing that I’m not quite where they were when they were my age, but at the same time, it can be really reassuring to know that improvement does happen over time,” Lily Weidemann said.
Yet having two family members in the same sport who have already experienced everything that Weidemann is now going through is something she says has helped get her in her speedskating career.
“They quite often tell me that it takes patience. This summer I was really struggling in that I felt like I had worked really, really hard and wasn’t seeing the improvements that I wanted to see in my skating. Both of them noticed that I was feeling this way and said, ‘we all go through those.’
Isabelle, as one of the top skaters in the world right now was saying she feels that every day, she’s not where she wants to be, and you’ve just got to be patient. It’s almost the people who are patient who end up at the top. That’s helped me a lot through the days.”
Lily’s patience seems to have paid off this year, as she has set career best times in each of her events – the 500m (42.94 seconds), the 1000m (1:24.19), the 1500m (2:11.64) and the 3000m (4:43.09). After the Canada Games, she’ll compete in the fourth and final Canada Cup of the year in March.
As with any elite athlete, Weidemann has her eyes set on bigger events, such as the 2022 Winter Olympics. But in the meantime, she will be facing off against some of the best in Canada later this month.