Courtney Sarault made history on Sunday, becoming only the second New Brunswick native – and only the sixth Canadian from outside Quebec – to reach the overall podium at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships. The 20-year old earned bronze in the 1000m and finished the competition as vice-champion.
Sarault (Moncton, N.B.) entered the 3000m Superfinal ranked second in the standings with 37 points, six points ahead of third-place Arianna Fontana of Italy (31), thanks to a silver medal in the 1500m and bronze medal in the 1000m. She completed the lengthy race in 5:21.773, ahead of Fontana, which secured her the silver medal position on the overall podium.
Dutch superstar Suzanne Schulting capped off a perfect weekend, one that saw her win gold in all three individual distances and the relay, by winning the 3000m Superfinal and earning the second world champion crown of her career (136 points). She was joined on the overall podium by first-time medalist Sarault (58), who earned the same result at the junior level in 2018, and Fontana (39), who earned the fourth overall medal of her career.
With the vice-champion title, Sarault becomes only the fifth Canadian women from outside of Quebec to reach the overall World Championships podium, joining British Columbia’s Eden Donatelli (1990), Saskatchewan’s Cathy Turnbull (1979, 1980) and Brenda Webster (1977), and Alberta’s Kathleen Vogt (1976, 1977). She also joins Mark Lackie (1989) as the only skaters from New Brunswick to reach short track speed skating’s most prestigious podium.
Earlier in the day, Sarault claimed her second medal of these World Championships with bronze in the 1000m. She outstretched Selma Poutsma of the Netherlands at the line to grab the bronze medal in the photo-finish, clocking in with a time of 1:27.470, only 0.025 seconds ahead of her fourth-place counterpart. She was joined on the podium by gold medalist Schulting of the Netherlands and silver medalist Hanne Desmet of Belgium.
After being crowned 1500m world champion on Saturday, national team veteran Charles Hamelin entered the final day of competition with his sights set on the overall podium. Unfortunately, despite being in contention until the very end, the 36-year old just narrowly missed out, finishing his 17th World Championships ranked sixth overall.
The native of Sainte-Julie, Que., suffered a disappointing fifth-place result in his 1000m semi-final, but salvaged things with a first-place finish in the B Final, which ranked him sixth overall in the distance and earned him valuable points.
He entered the 3000m Superfinal ranked fourth in the standings with 39 points, tied with Russian Semen Elistratov. However, a seventh-place result in the distance just was not enough to push through the crowded leaderboard. He finished the competition with 41 points, only three behind eventual bronze medalist Elistratov.
Hungary’s Shaoang Liu was crowned world champion (60 points) for the first time in his career. He was joined on the overall podium by his brother, Shaolin Sandor Liu (55), as well as Russia’s Elistratov (44).
Maxime Laoun (Montréal, Que.) and Steven Dubois (Lachenaie, Que.) were also in action on Sunday, but failed to advance past the quarterfinals in the 1000m, finishing the distance ranked 16th and 19th, respectively. Meanwhile, Florence Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, Que.) won her 1000m ranking final race earlier in the day, which bumped her up to 21st position in the distance.
It was also a mixed day for Canada’s relay teams. The men’s squad of Laoun, Dubois, William Dandjinou (Verdun, Que.) and Jordan Pierre-Gilles (Sherbrooke, Que.) taking first place in the B Final, putting them fifth overall. The women’s team of Brunelle, Alyson Charles (Montréal, Que.), Danaé Blais (Châteauguay, Que.) and Claudia Gagnon (La Baie, Que.) also finished their B Final in first-place but were unfortunately penalized, relegating them to 8th in the standings.
Canada concludes the 2021 ISU World Short Track Championships with four medals, including a silver medal in the overall standings for Courtney Sarault and a world championship title in the 1500m for Charles Hamelin.
“I got really emotional at the end of my 3000m when the final standings where posted. I realized I was second overall at that point and the waterworks started. I was crying and couldn’t control myself. It’s really a feeling that is hard to explain. In my heart, I was going for the podium [this weekend]. I wasn’t sure where I would finish on the podium, but I’m really proud of myself and how I managed in my races.” – Courtney Sarault