Lassen lifts gold at Alberta Championships

Though recuperating from jet lag and illness, Whitehorse's Jeane Lassen was out-lifting the competition at the Alberta Weightlifting Championships in Edmonton on Saturday.

Though recuperating from jet lag and illness, Whitehorse’s Jeane Lassen was out-lifting the competition at the Alberta Weightlifting Championships in Edmonton on Saturday.

The 31-year-old hoisted 95 kilograms in the snatch and 120 in the clean and jerk to win gold in the women’s 75-kilogram division.

“It went pretty well considering I had a lot of things to overcome last week – jet lag, being sick, stuff like that,” said Lassen. “I did what I needed to do to pretty much ensure I get some Sport Canada funding.”

Lassen was still feeling the effects of her trip to Paris, France, where she competed at the World Weightlifting Championships less than two weeks ago.

At the worlds, which were an Olympic qualifier, Lassen lifted 97 kilograms in the snatch and 123 in the clean and jerk to finish 15th in her weight class. Her finish was a tie for the second highest of any Canadian at the event.

Although the Alberta championship has no bearing on Team Canada’s Olympic selection, her results could secure Sport Canada funding that would still help her reach that goal.

“Indirectly that helps me try for the Olympics,” said Lassen. “Having less financial worries definitely helps.”

Sport Canada funding will be announced in January after another competition Lassen will not be attending.

“I’m fifth on the list and there are nine cards, so five people have to pass in front of me for me to not get carded,” said Lassen. “The likelihood of that would be low because it would take personal bests from lots of athletes in one day. But anything is possible.”

In Edmonton, Lassen missed two of her six lifts, going for bigger numbers than usual. Doing so put a little more pressure on her, but that’s how she likes it.

“In the clean and jerk I needed to lift 120 to ensure I got a good position, so I opened with 115, which I did quite difficultly,” she said. “Then I went to 120 and missed it.

“I had two minutes between the lifts, so I had a little talking to myself, asking, ‘Why do I always have to put myself in the most pressure-filled situation possible?’

“Basically everything came down to that last lift of 120 kilos, which would have made it worth my while to have flown to Edmonton, or not. Luckily, I pulled it off.

“It was a pressured lift, but I guess that’s what I like to do to myself.”

Her performance at the worlds has landed her an invite to the Olympics test event in London next month. Lassen is undecided whether she will attend.

“If I go it will be on the same platform, have the same loaders, the same complete set-up as the London Olympics,” said Lassen. “It will be really cool from a sport psychology standpoint because then, when I’m visualizing, I know exactly what to visualize and when I do go out there for the competition, I will have been there before and would not be surprised by anything.”

All this has taken place just six months after coming out of retirement.

Lassen retired in 2009 and returned to competition in May, coming back as if she never left. With just three weeks of preparation, Lassen won silver at the Western Canadian Championship in Richmond, BC.

She then earned her spot back on the national team and entry to the worlds with a first-place finish at the Blue Mountain Open in Collingwood, Ontario, in August.

If Lassen makes Canada’s Olympic team, it will be her second Games, having competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she finished eighth. (Canada’s final Olympic selection will take place after the national championships next summer.)

Over her career, she has won gold 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 19 times. She also holds nine Canadian records split between three junior and six senior.

Though she tends to have a few years on the competition – she was the oldest in her division at the world championships by two years – age does have its advantages. Having left the sport for almost two years, Lassen seems to have returned with a for-the-love-of-the-sport attitude that helps her keep cool under pressure.

“I had fun, and that’s really the most important thing,” said Lassen of Edmonton. “I got some really nice compliments from people saying, ‘It’s cool to see that you love this sport so much after this many years.’ And beginners saying they were inspired by my performance and they want to strive to obtain that kind of performance some day.

“I’m enjoying the process more, instead of looking at every kilogram on the scoreboard.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com