SAGUENAY, QUEBEC – Canadian Olympic short track speed skaters Samuel Girard and Kasandra Bradette officially announced their retirement from competitive skating today.
The couple made the announcement in Saguenay, Que., near their respective hometowns, so that they could share the special moment with family, friends and community members that have supported them throughout their careers and helped them reach their Olympic dreams.
Girard, 22, earned a pair of medals in his Olympic debut last winter in PyeongChang. He won Canada’s first ever gold in the 1000m and helped the men’s 5000m relay team capture bronze. He just missed the podium in his other two events, finishing fourth in both the 500m and 1500m.
His gold medal also earned him a place in the record books as one of only four Canadians to be crowned Olympic champion in short track, joining Annie Perreault (1998), Marc Gagnon (2002) and Charles Hamelin (2010, 2014).
“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” said Girard, who finished fourth overall at the World Championships this past season. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”
The native of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., who began speed skating at the age of four with the Club de Patinage de Vitesse La Baie, joined the national team program as an 18-year-old and quickly established himself as a dominant force on the international stage.
Girard took part in a pair of World Junior Championships, winning 500m silver and finishing fourth overall in 2014. He made his debut on the World Cup circuit that same year and went on to win a total of 27 medals – ten gold, eight silver and nine bronze – including 13 in individual distances.
He also captured five World Championship silver medals, three in individual distances and two in the relay, along with a career-best bronze in the overall world rankings in 2017.
Despite a brief career, Girard has earned his fair share of accolades. He was named Speed Skating Canada’s Rising Star in 2014 and the organization’s Male Short Track Athlete of the Year in 2017 and 2018. His achievements in PyeongChang also made him a finalist for Male Athlete of the Year at the 41st Canadian Sport Awards and for International Athlete of the Year at the 45th SportQuébec Gala.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Bradette also made her Olympic debut in 2018, racing to an eighth-place result with the 3000m women’s relay team.
The Saint-Félicien, Que. native began skating competitively with her hometown club at 11 years old, eventually parlaying her love for short track into an eight-year career with Canada’s national team.
“Throughout my career, a small voice told me to continue pushing forward despite the obstacles that were in front of me and now that same voice is telling me that I’ve accomplished what I had to accomplish,” said Bradette, who overcame multiple injuries to achieve success. “I am looking forward to the other challenges open to me and it’s an exciting step that I’m lucky to share with Sam.”
Bradette debuted on the World Cup stage in 2011 and appeared in her first World Championship in 2015. She captured two individual medals on the World Cup circuit – a 1000m silver and 500m bronze in 2015 – along with 13 more in the relay. She also reached the World Championship podium on four separate occasions, winning three relay medals and earning bronze in the 1000m in 2016.
“On behalf of Speed Skating Canada and the entire Canadian speed skating community, I would like to congratulate Samuel and Kasandra on their tremendous careers,” said Susan Auch, Chief Executive Officer of Speed Skating Canada. “It has been an absolute pleasure watching them compete on the international stage over the years. They represented their country with pride and were always incredible ambassadors for our sport, both on and off the ice.
“We hope they enjoy their time away from the rink and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours.”
Those sentiments of gratitude towards the skaters were echoed by Robert Dubreuil, Executive Director of the Quebec Speed Skating Federation.
“With the retirement of Kasandra and Samuel, two of the leading speed skaters in Quebec and Canada are taking their bow,” he remarked “They have both marked our sport, each in their own way. Kasandra has shown extraordinary determination in her Olympic pursuit and Samuel, for his part, will be remembered for his immense talent and work ethic that led him to the top step of the Olympic podium.
“We would like to congratulate them on their careers and let them know that the doors of our sport will always be wide open for them!”
The post-retirement plan for Girard and Bradette, who met at the national team training centre in Montreal and have been together for nearly six years, involves completing their studies and eventually settling down in the Ferland-et-Boilleau region, where the outdoorsy pair loves to spend their time hiking and camping.