Speed Skating Canada is pleased to introduce the National team members who will represent Canada at the World Junior Short Track Championships, Feb. 27-March 1, in Osaka, Japan.
Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC), Sasha Alexander Fathoullin (Calgary, AB), Maxime Laoun (Montréal, borough Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie, QC) and Sébastien Gagnon (Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, QC) will be the men’s representatives, while Genève Bélanger (Montréal, borough Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, QC), Audrey Phaneuf (Boucherville, QC), Alyson Charles (Montréal, borough Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension, QC) and Rosalie Tremblay (Saint-Félicien, QC) will compete on the women’s side.
Coaches Marc Gagnon, five-time Olympic medalist, and Jeffrey Scholten will travel with the athletes.
With the exception of Girard, these athletes, have been selected based on their overall rank obtained at the Canadian Junior Short Track Championships January 9-11 in Trois-Rivières, QC.
Girard, who will turn 19 in June and who was a member of the junior national team last year, was prequalified as he finished in the top 6 in an individual event at a World Cup last fall. He took the fifth spot in 1500m in Salt Lake City and 6th in 1000m in Seoul.
Girard also qualified for the World Senior Championships March 13-15 in Moscow at the Canadian Senior Championships in Montreal last weekend.
“I’m very happy to take part in the World Junior Championships,” said Samuel Girard.
“By qualifying at the first World Cup of the season, it gave me the opportunity to focus on my other World Cups and, at the same time, for the trials for the World Senior Championships.”
“My objective for Osaka will be to continue to improve my race strategy to be ready for the World Senior Championships. I’m also looking to get the world title, while always keeping in mind learning through the international competitions.”
Last year, at the World Junior Short Track Championships in Erzurum, Turkey, Canada won two medals. Girard won a silver medal in 500m and finished fourth in 1000m and second in the 1500m super final. The women’s relay team also won a silver medal. That team included 2014 fall World Cups National team members Kim Boutin, Joanie Gervais, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier and Audrey Phaneuf.
Girard, Fathoullin, Bélanger and Phaneuf in the individual events
Fathoullin won the Canadian Junior Championships’ national title after winning three of four events. In the overall ranking, he finished ahead of Maxime Laoun and Sébastien Gagnon.
On the women’s side, Bélanger and Phaneuf shared the title as both of them won two events and two silver medals. Tremblay and Charles finished third and fourth.
By taking the first two positions in the overall ranking of the Canadian Junior Championships, Bélanger and Phaneuf qualified to take part in the individual events at the World Junior Championships, as did Fathoullin and Girard who got this privilege by being pre-qualified on the men’s side. Other nominations for individual event will announced later.
In Trois-Rivières, Fathoullin won the gold medal in the 1500m, the 1500m super final and the 500m events, a distance for which he holds the Canadian record since 2014. He also got a bronze medal in 1000m where he was 0.1 second behind the winner.
“Recently, I have been working on becoming an athlete who can relax and enjoy the sport even during competition time. I wanted to put aside the pressure I would regularly put on myself and decided to focus on each moment I was in. I felt happy with skating and myself during the weekend and I think it showed on the ice.”
Maxime Laoun took second spot in the overall ranking with silver medals in the 1500m and 1500m super final events, and the bronze in the 500m and 1000m events. Sébastien Gagnon took was third in 1500m and in the 1500m Super Final, and finished fourth in the 1000m event.
In the women’s side, Bélanger, who took part in the 2012 and 2013 World Junior Championships, won the 500m and 1500m titles and finished second in the 1000m and 1500m super final events. She also registered a very fast time of 44.980 in the junior 500m final.
“I’m very satisfied overall with my three days of competition”, said Bélanger. “However, I made some mistakes, but I will definitively learn from them so I can be better in a strategic way. Physically, I never felt this good in a long time. It’s giving me a lot of confidence.”
Phaneuf switched positions with Bélanger by winning the 1000m and 1500m super final and finishing second in the 500m and 1500m events.
“I had a strong finish by winning two gold medals after I got two silver. I couldn’t ask for more,” said Phaneuf, who took part in her first World Cups last December. She finished 9th in the 3000m in Seoul and 8th on 500m in Shanghai.
She will be at the World Junior Championships for a fourth straight year.
“I’m very happy to go back there. It will be again a great experience to learn more on the international level. I know more now what to expect based on my participation at the Senior World Cups in Asia. I’m going there more confident and ready to show what I can do. The possibility of a medal is also an option,” she said.
Tremblay took third spot in the 1500m super final and fourth in 500m, 1000m and 1500m. Charles finished third in the 500m and 1500m events, and fourth in the 1500m super final.
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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Speed Skating Canada
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Speed Skating Canada