Three rookies on Canada’s short track speed skating national team qualified directly for the final rounds in both competitions they were each racing in, Friday, at the ISU World Cup taking place this weekend in Seoul, South Korea.
Samuel Girard (men’s 500m and 1000m), Kim Boutin (women’s 1000m and 1500m) and Namasthée Harris-Gauthier (women’s 1500m and 3000m) all reached the quarterfinal or semi-final round of their respective races, Saturday and Sunday, and therefore avoided the repechage heats.
Overall, the Canadian team picked up 18 spots out of a possibility of 24 in finals rounds in the eigh individual races to be held, the men’s and women’s 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 3000m. There were three Canadian entries per race.
Girard, an 18-year-old athlete from Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., qualified for the quarterfinals of the 1000m, slated for Saturday, and Sunday’s 500m.
“This is the first World Cup where I won’t have to go through the repechage heats”, noted Girard. “It shows that the work I’ve done over the first few World Cups, this season, is paying off. I can see to what extent I’m improving, from a tactical standpoint among other things.”
Boutin, a 23-year-old native of Sherbrooke, Que., will be in the 1000m quarterfinals, Saturday, and the 1500m semi-finals, Sunday.
“I felt good vibes in the 1000m, and I was looking to manage my race well, without putting too much pressure on myself”, she said. “In the 1500m, I wanted to control the race and I was able to do that. This weekend, I’m looking for spots in the finals, but I’m going into this without pressure.”
Harris-Gauthier, a 20-year-old Montrealer who is taking part in only her second World Cup after making her debut last week in Shanghai, China, will skate in both the 3000m (Saturday) and 1500m (Sunday) semi-finals.
“The day went well, even if there were some nerves going into this season’s first 3000m race”, said Harris-Gauthier. “But everyone was in the same boat and I felt I had good legs until the end, so I’m confident I’ll do well.”
This is the first time since the 2005-06 season that a 3000m race is on the World Cup program. It has been included as a test event to see if it will attract fan interest and should be raced on a more regular basis. Final ranking in the 3000m, this weekend, will allow skaters to collect points in 1500m overall standings.
The veterans as well
The Canadian team’s veteran skaters also did well in Friday’s qualifiying, as Marianne St-Gelais, Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer and Patrick Duffy all reached the final rounds in each of their two respectives races.
St-Gelais, of Saint-Félicien, Que., put herself in a good position to pick up a medal in a fourth straight World Cup this season, as she qualified for the women’s 1000m quarterfinals, Saturday, and the women’s 500m quarterfinals, Sunday. In the 500m, she finished first in her heat after starting the race from position number 5.
“It was a good thing to start from a position different from first, because it’s consistent with this season’s plan to explore different things”, noted St-Gelais. “I was confident I would still do well, but I told myself I had to stay alert, because you never know what might happen. Things went well.”
Charles Hamelin, from Sainte-Julie, Que., finished first of his heat in both the men’s 500m and 1000m. He will be in the quarterfinals for both events, Saturday (1000m) and Sunday (500m).
“I had solid races today”, said Hamelin. “And I had the fastest time of the day in the 500m, which is a good sign for the rest of the weekend”, said Hamelin, who reached the podium, earlier this season, at the Salt Lake City and Shanghai World Cups.
Cournoyer, from Boucherville, Que., will be in the semi-finals for both Saturday’s 1500m and Sunday’s 3000m. This is only his second World Cup of the season, after having to nurse injuries over the summer and fall.
“I consider today’s races to be my first ‘real’ races this season, because I was able to go with a more strategic approach, when overtaking for instance”, said Cournoyer, who raced in both 500m events, last week, in China. “Overall, I had a good day. I only made a few small mistakes, which are easy to correct.”
Duffy, a 23-year-old athlete from Oakville, Ont., reached the quarterfinals in the 1000m event, Saturday, and the semi-finals in the 3000m race, to take place Sunday.
“There are a lot of positives to build off of my races today”, said Duffy. “Some people had doubts about holding a 3000m race but as it turns out, it promises to be an exciting addition to the weekend.”
The other Canadian skaters to reach the final rounds directly were François Hamelin (1500m), William Preudhomme (1500m), Audrey Phaneuf (3000m) and Kasandra Bradette (500m).
The men’s relay qualified for Saturday’s semi-finals, while the women’s relay was already qualified for that stage of the competition because there are only eight teams registered for this weekend’s races.
TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS:
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
-Samuel Girard: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
-François Hamelin: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the repechage Sunday
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Saturday
-Samuel Girard: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Saturday
-Patrick Duffy: 3rd in the heats but advanced for the quarterfinals Saturday
-François Hamelin: 1st in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday
-Charle Cournoyer: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday
-William Preudhomme: 6th in the heats but advanced for the semi-finals Saturday
-Charle Cournoyer: 3rd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Sunday
-Patrick Duffy: 4th in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Sunday
-William Preudhomme: 5th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Sunday
-Canada: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday (Charle Cournoyer, Patrick Duffy, Samuel Girard, Charles Hamelin)
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
-Audrey Phaneuf: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
-Kasandra Bradette: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Saturday
-Kim Boutin: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Saturday
-Kasandra Bradette: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the repechage Saturday
-Kim Boutin: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Sunday
-Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: 3rd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Sunday
-Joanie Gervais: 5th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Sunday
-Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: 8th in the heats but advanced in the semi-finals Saturday
-Audrey Phaneuf: 5th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Saturday
-Joanie Gervais: 5th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Saturday
-No heats as there are 8 teams, Canada automatically qualified for the semi-finals Saturday
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 13,000 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.
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