Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais remained the uncontested king and queen at the Canadian Senior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, held this weekend at Maurice-Richard Arena, as they respectively won the men’s and women’s 500m races, Saturday.
Hamelin and St-Gelais both won Friday’s 1500m events on the first day of the Canadian championships, which also serve in the qualification process for upcoming international competitions including the World Championships and the two winter Worlds Cups.
Saturday, St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, won the women’s 500m in 43.653 seconds, finishing ahead of Kasandra Bradette, also of Saint-Félicien, second in 43.743, and Courtney Shmyr of Langley, B.C., third in 45.147.
Charles Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, won the men’s 500m in 41.216, while Guillaume Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup, QC, was second in 41.737 and Samuel Girard of Ferland-and-Boilleau, QC, third in 41.906.
The men’s A final gave way to a lot of action, notably when Hamelin was overtaken by Girard towards the middle of the race, before getting back into the top position a half-a-turn later.
“When I saw Samuel go by, I went into attack mode. When that happens, you have to win back your spot right away, or wait for the right opportunity later on. I was able to make my way back pretty quickly”, said Charles Hamelin, who would have led the race from start to finish if not for Girard’s effort.
The veteran skater from Sainte-Julie also slightly lost balance because of a crack in the ice when he was leading the race, allowing the four skaters in the rest of the pack to close in, which led to contact. Patrick Duffy, of Oakville, Ont., was penalized for interference, which allowed Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, QC, third in Friday’s 1500m race, to end up fourth.
Bastille, for his part, was able to find his way through to second place after biding his time.
“Because it was the last race of the day, there were some cracks in the ice because the best skating lines had all been used,” explained the 29-year-old athlete. “When things slowed down up front because of a crack, everyone caught up to everyone, and everyone tried to jump into a hole that quickly closed back up. I watched everything from the back and I was able to pick my spot.”
Girard was able to stay on his feet in spite of the fact that he found himself in the middle of all the turmoil, and he skated to third place in the 500m after picking up a silver medal in Friday’s 1000m.
“I still came up with a super nice race. I was able to overtake Charles for a bit and stay close behind him for almost all the rest of the race,” noted the 18-year-old athlete. “I’m very happy with my weekend so far.”
A two-skater battle in the women’s race
St-Gelais won it on the women’s side after skating up front all through the race, but with Bradette close behind, as the two skaters from Saint-Félicien maintained their 1-2 positions throughout the entire A final.
“My first intent was to protect my second place, while staying alert in case Marianne would give me an opening to try and overtake her. But she never made a mistake,” said Bradette, a 25-year-old athlete who finished third in the 500m race held at the Shanghai World Cup in mid-December, her best career result at the international level. “I’m still quite happy with my second-place result.”
“When I skate in front like that, I don’t really worry about what’s going on behind, I mostly focus on what I have to do, in order to avoid giving opportunities to overtake to the skaters behind me”, said St-Gelais, who has picked up six individual medals so far this World Cup season, including three in 500m events, and has therefore increased her lead in overall standings at these Canadian Champioships with her second win in as many days on the women’s side.
Shmyr, a 22-year-old skater from Langley, B.C., finished third after Kim Boutin was penalized for interference at her expense. Boutin, a 20-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., had to settle for fourth place after picking up a silver medal in Friday’s 1500m.
Shmyr finished way behind St-Gelais and Boutin, but was still happy with the bronze. She had finished fourth in the 500m held at the Fall World Cup Selections, at the start of the season.
“I was happy to make it all the way to the A final and, once I was there, I was aiming for a top-3 result,” she said. “When Kim tried to make a move, I stood my ground. I’m happy with my day overall.”
The Canadian Championships will conclude Sunday with the men’s and women’s 1000m, 3000m and relay events, starting at 11:10 am at Maurice-Richard Arena. Admission is $5 for the day.
The results from this weekend’s Canadian Senior Championships will also count in qualification process for the 2015 Short Track World Championships, to be held March 13-15 in Moscow, for the two winter World Cups set to take place in February – in Dresden, Germany, Feb. 6-8, and Erzurum, Turkey, Feb. 13-15, or for the short track events to be contested Feb. 8-10 at the Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain.
Athletes will be selected based on the overall standings from the weekend’s races, with results calculated in combination with those earned at the Fall World Cup Selections or at the National Qualifier.
RDS is webcasting the entire competition of the Canadian Senior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, in collaboration with TVGO. Fans are invited to go on the www.rds.ca/amateurs/courte-piste, as per the competitions schedule held live at Maurice-Richard Arena.
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.
SSC is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values including our premium sponsor Intact Insurance, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.
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