Marianne St-Gelais and Charle Cournoyer go two for two at 2017 Canadian Senior Championships with wins in the 500m
Speed Skating Canada – Montreal, January 14, 2017 – Marianne St-Gelais and Charle Cournoyer earned their second national titles in as many tries at the 2017 Short Track Speed Skating Canadian Senior Championships, Saturday, as they came out on top in the 500 events held at the competition that will take place until Sunday at Montreal’s Maurice-Richard Arena.
On the men’s side, the 500m final was won by Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC, who finished ahead of Charles Hamelin from Sainte-Julie, QC, and Pascal Dion of Montréal, QC.
The final was held twice because in the first race, the chief referee of the competition stopped the race with one quarter of a lap to go, after Charles Hamelin and Pascal Dion fell to the ice as they were both skating out in front. Samuel Bélanger-Marceau and Charle Cournoyer skated on to finish respectively first and second.
That International Skating Union (ISU) rule, which is rarely applied, was adopted a few years ago with the goal in mind of protecting skaters in the lead.
“I skated great in each of the rounds,” said Charle Cournoyer who, on Friday, won the men’s 1500m. “In the first final, I had a bad start. It put me in a hole and I ended up behind everybody. That race was pretty frustrating for me.”
Cournoyer made amends in the second final, however.
“Nobody had any legs left to go fast and I won,” said Cournoyer. “As for me, I still had strong legs since I’m a skater that has endurance and I won in this situation. Instead of finishing second, I came in first.”
“I understand the rule which hasn’t been applied often,” he added. “I’m not against it, especially in important competitions. I think it was the right thing to do, in part because of what happened in Sochi, when three skaters fell in the men’s relay and also in the women’s 500m final, and they didn’t do the race over. I think this rule is a step in the right direction.”
Tired after the first 500m, Charles Hamelin opted for a conservative approach in the second final.
“In the second race, I wanted to protect my position and not play with fire,” explained Charles Hamelin. “My legs weren’t as strong and I knew Charle (Cournoyer) would have strong legs all the way to the end. So I opted for a secure approach in order to make sure I get points for second place.”
“There’s no doubt I would have wanted the points from the first race, because it would have taken off a lot of pressure heading into Sunday’s racing,” admitted Charles Hamelin. “Still, I’m in a better position than I was Friday. I still need to have a good day on Sunday, I’ll need to be solid on my skates.”
According to Pascal Dion, who was third, the fall in the first final was caused by a piece of blade that was on the ice.
“At the start, part of Samuel Bélanger-Marceau’s blade broke off and it so happens that it was during the last lap, when I wanted to overtake Charles (Hamelin), that I put my skate on the piece of metal, which made me fall,” he explained.
“I’m still really satisfied with my day. It started off badly on Friday, when I was unlucky with my disqualification. I really wanted to make it up today, because I knew I could do better. I wanted to skate in the 500m A final. I was then going for the win, but it didn’t work out. I’m still quite satisfied.”
Marianne St-Gelais remains undefeated
Marianne St-Gelais, for her part, won her eighth Canadian title in three years, this time in the 500m.
In Saturday’s final, St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, skated out in front from start to finish. She was followed by Jamie Macdonald of Fort St. James, B.C. who, in turn, overtook Kim Boutin from Sherbrooke, QC, during the last lap to collect silver.
“We talk a lot about my wins over the last three years but this weekend, these Canadian Championships are a big event for me,” said Marianne St-Gelais. “Not only in terms of calibre – this is one of the first times where it was as close between me and my opponents –, but also because I’m thinking a lot about what lies ahead, especially the World Championships and the Olympic Games. I’m feeling some stress and I feel the pressure. Tomorrow’s 1000m will be really interesting because that’s the distance where the battles are the hardest.”
Jamie Macdonald was able to remain patient and wait for the right time to attack.
“It was a fast race. I knew from the start that most likely I would be in third position, so I wanted to stay third and look for an opening whenever it would come up,” said Macdonald. “I chose to be patient and wait until the last lap of the race, and it definitively paid off. There was an opening, I went for it and I was able to do it smoothly. I knew I could do it and it paid off!”
“I made a mistake,” admitted Kim Boutin. “I was about to try to overtake Marianne (St-Gelais), but I didn’t think to protect my second spot. Jamie (Macdonald) did very well to go by me. I’m satisfied with how my day went, but not with my final.”
The 1000m and 3000m events will take place on Sunday, the last day of the competition.
The top 64 short track skaters in Canada are competing this weekend, notably to try and qualify for international senior competitions scheduled later this winter, including the 2017 ISU Short Track World Championships.
Admission is $5 per day or $10 for the three-day event, and free for kids six years of age or less. Tickets are available online at www.speedskating.ca or at the door.
Races at the 2017 Short Track Canadian Championships are webcast on the Facebook page of the Fédération de patinage de vitesse du Québec. The exact links are available at www.speedskating.ca, where the event schedule can also be found.
More information, including the full schedule, is available on Speed Skating Canada’s website at www.speedskating.ca.
About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for competitive long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, the association is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial branches representing more than 14,000 individual members, and counting. SSC believes that sport is an apprenticeship for life and prizes respect for others, integrity, excellence of effort, as well as a safe, healthy environment. SSC recognizes and values its outstanding volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise. It also celebrates the 63 Olympic medals won by Canadian athletes since 1932, as well as the coaches, officials and other dedicated individuals who helped them on their journey.
SSC is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values including our premium sponsors Intact Insurance and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.
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