Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin remain undefeated at Canadian Senior Short Track Championships
Speed Skating Canada – Montreal, January 16, 2016 – Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin both came up with their second straight victory at the Canadian Senior Short Track Championships, Saturday, by coming out on top in the 500m. The competition, which also allows Canadian skaters to qualify for the upcoming Senior World Championships as well as for the two winter World Cup stages of the 2015-2016 season, will take place until Sunday at Maurice Richard Arena in Montreal.
In the men’s final, Charles Hamelin (40.644) won the race over François Hamelin (40.795) to come up with gold ahead of his brother’s silver. Samuel Girard (40.838) of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, followed in third place.
For Charles Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, QC, this second win in as many days did not come easily.
“This was a medal that came after a lot of hard work all day long,” said the four-time Olympic medalist.
In the quarterfinals, the 31-year-old athlete was brought down by another skater’s fall, which was without consequence because officials awarded Hamelin a spot in the following round. Starting in fifth position in the semifinal, Charles Hamelin had to profit from another skater’s disqualification to clinch a spot in the final.
“I found myself in a high-calibre semifinal and in a position at the start that is unfamiliar,” he said. “Qualifying (for the final) was a huge weight off my shoulders. My skate in the final ended being my best of the day, however. I’m really satisfied with the way I skated in it, for example when I overtook François (Hamelin), it went perfectly. The rest of the job consisted in controlling the race.”
François Hamelin was all smiles after finishing second and earning precious points in combined standings that will count in the qualification process for the World Championships and the upcoming World Cups. On Friday, he finished 8th in the 1500m.
“Charles (Hamelin) went by me and I couldn’t do anything about it with one lap and a half done,” explained the 2010 and 2014 Olympian. “So I focused on protecting my position to come up with a great second-place finish, which I will gladly take, just as I will gladly take the points and all the positives that go along with it going into Sunday.”
As did Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard saw a lot of action in his heats and he was happy with third place after ending up second in Friday’s 1500m.
“It was a day filled with adventure, as well as with lots of overtaking and falls,” said Girard. “In the final, where I started from fourth position, I had a good start and I profited from the fact that Olivier Jean tried to get ahead but lost speed in the process, and that opened the door for my third-place finish.”
After winning both 1000m events at last September’s Fall World Cup Selections, Girard hopes for a repeat performance on Sunday in that distance.
“The 1000m is my specialty, so I’ll try to go get the maximum amount of points by winning the final,” he said.
Charles Hamelin, however, hopes to win back the 1000m national title to complete a sweep of this weekend’s races.
“I see it as another race to win, where I will need to be smart and avoid any ill-advised or risky overtaking, and also conserve energy for the final so that I can battle until the end, with skaters such as Sam (Girard). I want to go get that 1000m title back,” he said.
Marianne St-Gelais still undefeated at the national level this season
On the women’s side, Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, continued to dominate. After winning Friday’s 1500m, she added another gold medal to her collection in Saturday’s 500m with a time of 43,262. She finished ahead of Kasandra Bradette (43,301), of Saint-Félicien, QC, and Valérie Maltais (43,463), of La Baie, QC.
St-Gelais therefore continued to dominate at the national level this season. At the Fall World Cup Selections held in Montreal last September, she swept all six events scheduled on the women’s side. In addition, at last fall’s World Cup stages, the Saint-Félicien athlete earned seven individual medals in eight events.
“The 500m is a distance that I love and where I know I can perform well at the Canadian level,” said St-Gelais. “In the final, I knew Kasandra (Bradette) would get off to a good start. I did not want to make a mistake towards the end of the race, as the ice wasn’t as good. This gives me some big points, as it puts me at least among the top-3.”
After finishing 13th in Friday’s 1500m, Saturday’s second-place result was quite welcomed by Kasandra Bradette.
“Friday really wasn’t a good day for me,” said Bradette. “The 500m is my distance and I went in with an attitude where I was going for the win. Each heat that was the approach I had in mind.”
Valérie Maltais stepped on the podium for the first time this weekend, after finishing 7th in Friday’s 1500m.
“I was aggressive,” she said. “I have some good starts and I was able to get into a good position early in my races. The final was fast and a close contest. I had a little run-in at the start of the race that I was able to make up, but a 500m race is short!”
Maltais hopes to rack up the points on Sunday in her specialty, the 1000m. It’s in that distance that she finished 6th at the 2014 Olympic Games in addition to setting a new Olympic record. She also earned a bronze in that distance at the 2014 World Championships.
“The 1000m is a distance that I know how to manage well and that I’m comfortable with,” she said. “But at the same time, the level in Canada is getting higher and more intense, and there are some good rivalries. I will have to come up with good, smart races to reach the final and end up on the podium.”
Sunday, on the last day of competition, the 64 top short track speed skaters in Canada will face off in the 1000m events starting at 10:10 a.m. (Eastern Time).
The 16 top skaters according to standings after the weekend’s first three events will then take part in the 3000m, giving them a chance to collect more points and improve their ranking.
Admission is $5 and is free for kids six years of age or less.
Webcast on CBC.ca and Radio-Canada.ca
The 2016 Canadian Senior Championship competitions are webcasted live on the cbc.ca and radio-canada.ca websites. Direct links are available on www.speedskating.ca, as are the competition and live webcast schedules for the events set to take place at Maurice-Richard arena.
More information, including the full schedule, is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: 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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