After making her World Cup long-track speed skating debut in 2013-14, Heather McLean had a breakout season in 2015-16, earning her first World Cup medal, a 500m bronze, in Inzell, Germany. 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 2016 World Sprint Championships, 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 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.
McLean is scheduled to compete in the 1,000m on Feb. 14 and 500m on Feb. 18 in PyeongChang.
1. It’s Sunday morning. What are you having for breakfast? A bagel breakfast sandwich with avocado, apple slices and coffee.
2. If you didn’t do what you do for a living, what would you be? A private chef for an athlete or team!
3. What’s your favourite hobby? Cooking!
4. Last book you couldn’t put down? Fierce by Aly Raisman
5. Who was your childhood celebrity crush? Leonardo Dicaprio
6. What’s the last song you downloaded? Crazy in Love – Beyoncé & Jay Z
7. If you could see one concert, what would it be? Lady Gaga
8. What’s the best thing about Winnipeg? Running through Assiniboine Park (and getting Sargent Sundae after)
9. What’s your weirdest habit? Vacuuming
10. What’s your biggest pet peeve? If the weights on either side of the squat bar aren’t matching and facing inward.
11. What’s your fast-food guilty pleasure? I don’t necessarily have one but I can eat about three dozen Yorkshire puddings in one sitting.
12. What was your most embarrassing moment? Getting the two Dutch speed skating twins mixed up. Happens often.
13. Which person, alive or dead, would you like to have dinner with? Russell Martin. I would love to hear how he manages playing 162 games a year.
14. What’s your favourite vacation destination? Kenora, Ont.
15. What is your favourite TV show? Game of Thrones
16. What’s your favourite movie? Bad moms
17. If you could have one super power, what would it be? To trade places with people and see life from their perspective.
18. What’s the one thing you haven’t done that you’d love to do? Go on a yoga/meditation retreat in Bali
19. If we’re buying, you’re having … A side of sweet potato fries
20. What are your words to live by? Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are – Brene Brown