Courtesy International Skating Union

Courtesy Bence Horvai

Ivanie Blondin moved to Calgary from Ottawa in 2010 to switch from short-track to long-track speed skating. It turned out to be a smart move, both for her career and for her lifestyle.

Three years after relocating, she switched from being a renter to a homeowner and bought a condo in Varsity Village, joining a few other members of Canada’s national long-track team and making the 100-unit complex her first home.

“I have no regrets,” the 29-year-old said. “I’m a very ‘homey’ person and I really like to make my place my own, even the condos I rented. I would ask owners or the property managers if I could paint and personalize the space – do this and do that. I’ve always been that way.”

Within the past year, Blondin and her boyfriend, Hungarian long-track team member Konrad Nagy, have renovated every inch of the 1,000-square-foot space, so it no longer looks like it was built in 1978. They did a lot of the work themselves, but also had help from friends who are contractors.

“Because it was old, there were so many things we needed to fix. It was like doing a puzzle.”

“I really enjoyed the work,” she said. “It was a nice side project away from speed skating. We lived in the house while we were finishing it and it was nice to come home and work on it.

“Yes, it was hectic at first, but it was fun. Because it was old, there were so many things we needed to fix. It was like doing a puzzle.”

The end of renovations corresponded with the beginning of an amazing surge for Blondin, who is eyeing her third Olympics in 2022. Midway through the 2019-20 World Cup season, she has six victories – three in mass start, along with gold in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 metres. Blondin also led her team into the only Canadian World Cup on the schedule, which was held Feb. 7-8 here in Calgary.

Blondin’s condo is mere minutes from the University of Calgary campus, so she can either bike or walk. It’s also a ground-floor unit, which is important to her because she’s a dog lover – she has her own and regularly fosters for the Cochrane Humane Society.

“It’s 13-feet wide and the fact that we can have an outdoor space was a huge thing,” she said.

“Growing up, my dad was huge into landscaping – he was a contractor (now retired) – and I always helped him do landscaping. The first thing I did when I moved in was tear up the entire yard and redo it.”