Speed Skating Canada presents the first members of its team for the 2016 World Short Track Championships
Speed Skating Canada – St-Gelais and Cournoyer in the 1000m, as well as MacDonald and Jean in the 3000m, win the last events at the Canadian Senior Championships
Montreal, January 17, 2016 – Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais and Kasandra Bradette on the women’s side, in addition to Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard and Charle Cournoyer in the men’s competition, are the first Canadian skaters to earn spots at the World Short Track Championships and at the two winter World Cups of the 2015-2016 season following their performances at the Canadian Senior Championships that ended on Sunday in Montreal.
St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, QC), Maltais (La Baie, QC), and Bradette (Saint-Félicien, QC) respectively finished first, second and third in combined standings that included results from the Canadian Senior Championships as well as those from either the Fall World Cup Selections or the Canadian Open National Qualifier. Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC), Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC) and Cournoyer (Boucherville, QC), in that order, did the same on the men’s side.
Canada will send a team of five women and five men at the World Short Track Championships, to be held March 11-13 in Seoul, South Korea, as well as a group of six women and six men at World Cup stages #5 and #6, to take place in Dresden, Germany, February 5-7, and the following week in Dordrecht, Netherlands.
By finishing 1-2 in the women’s competition, St-Gelais and Maltais also clinched spots for the individual distances at the World Championships, as did Charles Hamelin on the men’s side by finishing first. In Seoul, Canada will have three representatives on the women’s team and two on the men’s squad for the individual races.
The skaters set to earn the other vacant spots on the Canadian team, for the three international competitions to come as well as for the individual events at the World Championships, will be announced at a later date.
Marianne St-Gelais comes up with third win
On Sunday, Marianne St-Gelais won the women’s 1000m final, coming up with her third gold medal of the 2016 Canadian Senior Championships after collecting the national titles in the 500m and 1500m races earlier this weekend.
In Sunday’s final, St-Gelais (1:31.885) finished ahead of Maltais (1:31.986) and Bradette (1:32.047).
“What was at stake for me this week was to qualify for the World Championships and race in way that would help me be ready for the upcoming competitions,” noted St-Gelais, who was 11th in overall standings at last year’s world championships.
“We still have two important World Cups left before the Worlds and I hope I will get the chance to face opponents against who I still have a few little things to tweak in order to reach my goal of becoming world champion. The overall title is my dream, but a world title in a specific distance would be a good start and a huge step.”
Valérie Maltais also ended on a positive note the weekend of competition, which started with a seventh-place finish in Friday’s 1500m and was followed by a bronze medal in Saturday’s 500m before she came up with silver in Sunday’s 1000m. She then skated to a fourth-place finish in the 3000m.
“The weekend didn’t start like I hoped it would. But I came back strong and focused, which allowed to make progress and ensure my spot in the final to collect the greatest amount of points possible,” said Maltais who, at last year’s World Championships, only took part in the relay races.
“I’m very happy about being able to skate the individual distances in Seoul. That was my goal this weekend, as was finishing in the top-3.”
Kasandra Bradette had a similar weekend, as she ended up 13th in Friday’s 1500m, collected silver in Saturday’s 500m and followed it up with bronze in Sunday’s 1000m, before concluding the competition with a fifth-place result in the 3000m.
“I’m really happy about qualifying, especially after the way I started off the competition this weekend”, said the 26-year-old athlete who finished 13th in overall standings at last year’s World Championships. “I started out like a lamb, but I finished like a lion! Everything I’ve been working on since the Asian World Cups, I was able to apply well here and I’m really happy about that.”
Jamie MacDonald (6:11.415) of Fort St. James, B.C., won the women’s 3000m, followed by Marie-Ève Drolet of Laterrière, QC, and Audrey Phaneuf of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC.
Cournoyer gets in way of Charles Hamelin sweep
In the men’s 1000m, Charles Cournoyer won the final with a time of 1:24.269, to finish ahead of Samuel Girard (1:24.310) and William Preudhomme (1:24.452) of Toronto.
Cournoyer stepped on the podium for the first time this weekend, after ending up fourth in the 1500m and 3000m events, as well as 14th in the 500m.
“After the unfortunate turn of events for me in yesterday’s 500m, I had a good day today,” said the athlete who won bronze in the 500m at the 2014 Olympic Games. “I showed that I can skate at a World Championship level. I’m very happy about my weekend, even if I had highs and lows.”
Cournoyer will be going back to the World Championships after a tough 2014-2015 season where he had to undergo an operation to both shoulders and suffered a foot fracture.
“Over the last year, I learned a lot about myself and how to race, and I feel that I’m in a good position to represent Canada well,” he said. “This year, not knowing yet who will get the second spot in individual distances, my goal at a minimum is to help Canada become world champion in the relay.”
Samuel Girard, for his part, continued to show consistency, as he ended up on the podium in all events slated this weekend except for the 3000m, where he was seventh. He won silver in the 1000m and the 1500m, as well as bronze in the 500m.
“I showed over the weekend that I’m a three-distance skater!,” pointed out Girard, who is 19 years old and finished 19th at last year’s World Championships. “By finishing second, I’m in a good position to get the discretionary choice for the second spot dedicated to the individual distances.”
Charles Hamelin, who had won the 500m and the 1500m so far this weekend, settled for fifth place in Sunday’s 1000m (1:25.083) behind Sasha Fathoullin (1:24.705) of Calgary. He was sixth in the men’s 3000m.
“In the 1000m final, the quality of my blade deteriorated before the race started and I then lost my cut. After that, I wasn’t able to push adequately and I lost my balance, which took a lot of energy out of me and made me lose a lot of ground,” explained Hamelin.
“For Seoul, I want to become the overall world champion. I want to collect as many points as possible early in the individual competition, without necessarily finishing first. If the wins don’t come, I won’t look to force things too much and therefore run the risk of losing points for no good reason,” added Hamelin, who finished in third place overall twice and in fourth position two other times at the last four World Championships.
Olivier Jean (4:50.812) of Lachenaie, QC, skated to victory in the 3000m, finishing ahead of Cédrik Blais (4:59.065) of Châteauguay, QC, and Preudhomme (5:00.690).
More information 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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