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Lassen back on national team, heading to worlds

Whitehorse weightlifter Jeane Lassen is going to Disneyland - Disneyland Paris, to be specific.

Whitehorse weightlifter Jeane Lassen is going to Disneyland - Disneyland Paris, to be specific.

The 30-year-old is back on the national team and is set to compete at the IWF World Weightlifting Championships at Disneyland Paris in November.

“I’m back in the saddle,” said Lassen. “I’m pretty happy because I had a rough summer, but I made a good decision to go to a training camp in Louisiana for 10 days after my grandfather passed away.

“I’m really glad I did that because it helped me refocus, get enough sleep and take care of myself properly.”

Lassen earned her spot back on the team and entry to the worlds with a first-place finish at the Blue Mountain Open, a World Weightlifting Championships qualifier, in Collingwood, Ontario, on Saturday.

To top the women’s 75-kilogram division, Lassen lifted 95 kilograms in the snatch and 123 in the clean and jerk, thereby surpassing the combined 211 kilos she needed to make the team by seven kilos.

Her performance also placed her in the top-seven for all weight classes in Canada and made her the top seed for her class going into the worlds.

“They were relatively easy,” said Lassen of her lifts. “I was trying to be strategic about my competition, to make sure I got on the team and not take any big risks.”

If she considers her lifts to be on the easy side, that’s because her personal bests are 110 in snatch and 138 in clean and jerk.

“I didn’t expect to do my personal best; I only started training back in March,” said Lassen. “I wanted to be reasonable. I didn’t want to go 200 per cent right away. I’m over 90 per cent right now, so I’m pretty happy with that.

“I believe I will be able to beat them again.”

Lassen’s successes this year come after a lengthy break. She retired in 2009 and returned to competition in March, jumping back into the sport as if she never left.

“I thought it was going to be forever, that I was retiring, but I just needed a break because I was over training,” said Lassen.

In her first competition back, with just three weeks of preparation, Lassen won silver in the women’s 75-kilogram division of the Western Canadian Championship in Richmond, BC, lifting 85 kilos in the snatch and 107 in the clean and jerk.

She then captured silver at the 2011 Canadian Senior Weightlifting Championships in May.

However, Lassen was not the only Yukoner out-lifting the competition in Collingwood. Haines Junction’s Savanah van Vliet, 17, finished second in the beginner division, lifting 45 kilos in the snatch 52 in the clean and jerk.

“I actually wasn’t too happy with the amount I lifted,” said van Vliet. “I could have done better. But I think going down there, there was so much to take in and it was a good experience. I wasn’t that let down by not doing my best.”

Van Vliet, who only took up the sport in April, missed her personal bests of 47 and 57.

“I made a couple of technical mistakes,” said van Vliet. “You only get a couple opportunities to do the lifts, so that cost me.

“I like the training aspect of it, and when I went down there I realized I like the competition aspect of it as well,” she added.

If her name sounds familiar, it could be because van Vliet captained the Yukon girls hockey team at the Canada Winter Games last February in Halifax.

“After doing dry-land (training) with me before the Canada Games, she realized she enjoyed weightlifting, so she gave it a try,” said Lassen. “I think she’s going to carry on and it’ll be a good experience for her.”

Since her first competition in 1995, Lassen has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments.

Along with an eighth-place finish in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she has won gold and set a record at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, won bronze at the Pan American Games, won three silvers at the Junior World Championships, and has medaled at the University World Games a jaw-dropping 19 times. She also holds nine Canadian records, including three junior and six senior.

This fall Lassen will begin studies in sports performance at Camosun College in Victoria, BC.

“Hopefully it will help me improve my own sports performance and help athletes I train in the summer with,” said Lassen.

Contact Tom Patrick at