Courtney Sarault won Canada’s first medal of the 2019 ISU World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships, brining home bronze in the ladies 1500m on Saturday afternoon in Montreal.
The native of Moncton, N.B. was the third best skater in the longest of the individual distances, posting a time of 2:25.770 that put her behind only Seo Whi Min Seo of Korea (2:25.251) and Li Jinyu of China (2:25.320).
“I’m proud of my third-place finish,” said Sarault following her race. “I think there were maybe a few moves that I could’ve done better, but that’s short track. Overall, I’m proud of myself and for what I accomplished.”
Sarault was in second place going into the final lap of the race but was passed by Chinese skater Jinyu, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist in the same distance, who made a move from the middle of the pack to take over the silver medal position. The effects of having to re-skate her semi-final race – which was restarted by the officials following a crash that took out four of the seven participants – may have contributed to her inability to resist the last-second pass.
“It’s tough mentally knowing you’ve skated more than the other skaters. It was difficult trying to keep up with the pace that the Korean’s set from the start. I wish I had those eight or nine laps that I had to redo in the semis back.”
“But the girls ahead of me are good,” she added in praise of her opponents. “The skater from China was a silver medalist at the Olympics, so it’s not like I’m losing to no one.”
It was Sarault’s second career 1500m medal at the World Junior Championships, having also won silver last year in Poland.
Claudia Heeney of Waterloo, Ont. was the next best ranked Canadian in the ladies 1500m, placing fourth (2:51.275) in the B Final and ending the weekend in 12th position. Juliette Brindamour of Toronto, Ont. ran out of steam in the second running of her semi-final and finished in sixth place, putting her 17th overall.
Sarault was also the top ranked skater in the ladies’ 500m, finishing eighth overall thanks to a fourth-place result in the B Final (44.944). Hee Won Son of Calgary, Alta. didn’t make it past the quarterfinals, ending the day ranked 13th, while Heeney crashed during the heats and finished in 29th position.
On the men’s side, Nicolas Perreault of Sherbrooke, Que. earned a fifth-place finish in the men’s 1500m (2:27.568), finishing just off a podium that include Chang Hyun Woo of Korea (2:26.047), Wang Pengyu of China (2:26.443) and Pietro Sighel of Italy (2:26.457).
“I’m satisfied with my results, fifth place in the world is very good,” said Perreault following his race.
While no doubt an impressive result, it was surely a bit of a disappointment considering the young Quebecois skater was leading the pack before officials stopped the race and ordered a restart due to an injury to a Korean skater.
“We started off slow, but the speed of the race picked up all of a sudden and that took a lot out of me,” explained Perreault about the first running of the 1500m final. “I was exhausted when came time for the restart. The other guys had a bit more left in their legs than I did near the end.”
William Dandjinou of Verdun, Que., who was eliminated from medal contention in the 1500m after being penalized for making contact during an outside to inside pass in his semi-final, finished ranked 20th in the distance. Meanwhile, Matej Pederson of Calgary, Alta. participated in the ranking finals earlier in the day, skating to a 42nd overall placement.
Félix Pigeon of Saint-Pie, Que. and Dandjinou were both eliminated in the quarterfinals of the men’s 500m, finishing with an overall ranking of 15th and 17th, respective.
Canada’s relay teams were also both eliminated from medal contention on Saturday.
The ladies finished their semi-final race against Korea, Italy and the United States in second-place, but were penalized upon review for an arm push against the Italians, which eliminated them from the competition. Meanwhile, the men finished a disappointing fourth in their battle against China, Russia and Kazakhstan, a result that earned them a spot in tomorrow’ B Final.
World Junior title up for grabs in 1000m and 3000m relay on Sunday
The competition concludes tomorrow at the Maurice-Richard Arena with the 1000m finals, along with the finals for both the men’s and ladies’ 3000m relays.
Sarault and Heeney are still in contention for the ladies’ 1000m crown, while Perreault and Pederson will vie for the 1000m men’s title. Pigeon and Brindamour will skate in the ranking finals in that same distance. The men’s relay team will also be in action, taking on Hungary, Kazakhstan and the United States in the B Final