Kim Boutin captured her first individual gold medal of the season Sunday, finding herself on the podium in the ladies 1000m with bronze medalist and teammate Alyson Charles at the ISU World Cup Short Track in Torino, Italy.
Boutin, silver medalist Min Jeong Choi of Korea and Charles took turns leading the pack throughout the race, with Boutin making a pass to the front with two laps remaining to capture gold. Boutin, a native of Sherbrooke, Que., crossed the line in a time of 1:32.508 with Charles (Montreal, Que.) following close behind (1:32.891).
“I am very happy,” said Boutin about her first gold medal race of the season. “I skated a good race and am starting to have a lot of different strategies in my tool box. Reaching the podium with another Canadian is also extra fun! Alyson skated well this weekend so I am pleased to be bringing home a medal with her.”
Charles was equally delighted. “I train with Kim so it was very special to skate with her in the final,” she expressed after the race. “We each had our own plan and we applied them our way during the race. I’m very happy to have had the chance to stand on a double Canadian podium!”
The mixed relay team earned a silver medal for Canada, with Boutin, Courtney Sarault, Charles Hamelin and Samuel Girard stopping the clock in 2:40.614 behind the team from Russia. A well-executed final exchange shot Girard to the front of the pack, but the Russians were able to push through to cross the line in gold medal position. The American team picked up the bronze medal.
A total of eight Canadians will bring home the silver medal, as Claudia Gagnon, Steven Dubois, Charles and Cédrik Blais joined their teammates on the podium, having skated in earlier rounds of the mixed relay.
Dubois of Lachenaie, Que. also picked up his second individual bronze medal in as many days on Sunday, executing outside passes and keeping pace with the Koreans to find his way onto the podium in the men’s 1000m. His time of 1:27.583 was only fractions of a second slower than those of the gold and silver medalists from Korea, Dae Heon Hwang and Ji Won Park.
Dubois thinks that he’s gaining momentum toward the end of the season. “This wasn’t a distance where I was expecting to reach the podium,” he explained after the race. “But everything was going really well in training and during racing this weekend, so I was confident on the ice today and that got me the bronze medal.”
The lone other Canadian in individual medal contention Sunday, Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que. lost his footing on the second last lap of the men’s 500m (2) final and finished in fourth place. Skating in the B final of the men’s 1000m, Blais (Châteauguay, Que.) crossed the line third to finish eighth overall in the distance.
Other Canadian skaters in action on Sunday:
- Pascal Dion (Montreal, Que.) – Fifth in the semifinals of the men’s 500m (2)
- Sarault (Moncton, NB) – Penalized for an arm block in the ladies 500m (2) quarter-finals
- Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, Que.) – Fifth in the men’s 1000m quarter-finals
- Gagnon (Saguenay, Que.) and Kasandra Bradette (St. Félicien, Que.) – Second and third in the repechage semifinals of the ladies 500m (2)
In five stops on the World Cup circuit this season, the Canadian team earned a total of 21 medals – five gold, seven silver and nine bronze. All three relay teams stood on the podium, as did an impressive roster of eight individual athletes.
Canada’s best short track skaters will now return to Montreal for their last weeks of training and tune-up before the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria from March 8-10.