Cédrik Blais earned his second consecutive bronze medal in the men’s 500m at the 2019 ISU World Cup Short Track in Italy on Saturday, repeating his first-ever podium performance from last weekend’s event in Germany.
Despite crossing the line fourth, the native of Châteauguay, Que. was promoted to the podium after teammate Samuel Girard was penalized for a push from behind that caused Blais to fall during the race. Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que.) finished fourth in the distance. Korea’s Dae Heon Hwang topped the podium with Shaolin Sandor Liu of Hungary taking the silver medal.
“I am happy to have put myself in the final today and earned a medal, but I didn’t reach the podium in the best way,” recounted Blais after his race. “Sam [Girard] caught on a cone in the fourth corner and passed too close to me. But that’s short track! We can’t always control everything in a race.”
Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que. also found the third step of the podium, earning a bronze medal in the ladies 500m (1). After being called back to the line three times to restart the race, Boutin finished the distance in 44.184 behind hometown favourite Martina Valcepina of Italy and current World Cup leader Natalia Maliszewska of Poland.
It was the only distance this season in which Boutin had not yet earned a medal. “The final was a big race with lots of action,” she explained about the 500m. “I’m not someone who tires when I have to restart a course so luckily I wasn’t too impacted by that situation. The other skaters were really quick on their starts, so I had to be in good form. I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
Rounding out Canada’s trifecta of bronze medalists, Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, Que. found his way through a packed field in the men’s 1500m final to reach the podium with a time of 2:13.309. Korean Kim Gun Woo navigated his way to the front of the pack to earn his third consecutive gold in the distance, while countrymate Hong Kyung Hwan took silver.
“Today, my objective was the gold medal but I am not disappointed with the bronze,” said the 21-year-old Dubois who now sits second in the World Cup rankings for the 1500m. “With ten skaters in the final, it was a bit complicated but also let me execute on a good strategy. I had a great race which gives me lots of confidence on which to lean for future competitions.”
The mixed gender relay team qualified for tomorrow’s final after finishing first in their semi, while a penalty to Canada’s ladies relay ended their podium hopes. The men’s relay team failed to advance out of the quarterfinals on Friday after finishing third.
Blais says the Canadian team is looking forward to the mixed relay finals. “We don’t know who will skate yet, but no matter what we will have two good ladies and two good men. Our strategy will be to focus on exchanges so that we never lose speed during the race. We’ve won before so we are confident that we can do it again tomorrow.”
Other Canadian skaters in action on Saturday:
- Camille De Serres-Rainville (Montreal, Que.) – Sixth in the B final of the ladies 1500m
- Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, Que.) – Fifth in the semifinal of the men’s 500m (1)
- Kasandra Bradette (St. Félicien, Que.) – Penalized in the semifinal of the ladies 500m (1)
- Courtney Sarault (Moncton, NB) and Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, Que.) – Penalized in their respective semifinals of the 1500m
- Claudia Gagnon (Saguenay, Que.) – Fourth in the repechage semifinal of the ladies 1500m
Sunday will see Girard, Pascal Dion (Montreal, Que.) and Sarault race in the 500m (2). Hamelin was penalized in the heats of that distance and will not contest the podium, while Gagnon and Bradette will need to pass through the repechage to join the main group.
Dubois, Blais and Cournoyer have secured their spots in the men’s 1000m quarter-finals, as have Boutin and Alyson Charles (Montreal, Que.) in the ladies event. De Serres-Rainville received a penalty Friday and did not advance.