DEBRECEN, HUNGARY - NOVEMBER 21: Team Canada celebrates after winning Men`s 5000m Relay final race during the ISU World Cup Short Track at Fönix hall on November 21, 2021 in Debrecen, Hungary. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke - International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

Canada’s relay teams captured three medals at the World Cup Short Track in Debrecen on Sunday, adding one gold and two silver to a medal haul that now sits at 11 after three of four Olympic qualifying competitions.

The men’s team of Charles Hamelin, Steven Dubois, Pascal Dion and Jordan Pierre-Gilles captured gold for the second consecutive weekend, posting a time of 6:44.045 to defeat Korea (6:44.892) and Hungary (6:45.003).

Hamelin made a beautiful late inside pass with eight laps remaining to slide into first-place just before exchanging with Pierre-Gilles. The Canadians picked up their speed and crossed the finish line with a comfortable lead.

In addition to gold, the women’s and mixed gender teams earned a pair of silver medals earlier in the day.

The women’s team of Kim Boutin, Courtney Sarault, Alyson Charles and Florence Brunelle reached the podium for the first time this season (4:06.769), between gold medalist Netherlands (4:06.698) and bronze medalists China (4:06.782).

Meanwhile, the mixed relay squad of Brunelle, Dubois, Hamelin and Camille de Serres-Rainville skated their way to a second-place result, earning Canada’s third ever medal in the discipline since it was introduced in 2018-2019. They were joined on the podium by gold medalist China and bronze medalist France.

Sunday’s relay performances earned 17-year old Florence Brunelle the first two World Cup medals of her career. A handful of skaters also earned medals thanks to their participation in the quarterfinals and semifinals, including  Boutin, Sarault and Dion for the mixed, de Serres-Rainville for the women’s and Maxime Laoun for the men’s and mixed.

On the individual distance front, Pascal Dion’s breakout World Cup season continued. The Montreal native earned silver in the 1000m on Sunday, his third consecutive medal in the distance and fifth medal overall this season.

After winning 1000m bronze in both Beijing and Nagoya, the 27-year old battled his way to silver medal position on Sunday. Dion was leading the race with two laps remaining but lost speed and fell to second after getting bumped by teammate Jordan Pierre-Gilles, who was attempting a pass.

The contact allowed Korean skater Hwang Daeheon (1:25.425) to overtake both Canadians and win gold. Dion settled for silver (1:25.698), while Itzhak de Laat of the Netherlands (1:26.211) was third. Pierre-Gilles was penalized for a late pass, relegating him to fifth-place.

Dion has now won four individual distance medals – three in the 1000m and one in the 1500m – and sits first and fourth in the World Cup distance rankings, respectively.

It was a disappointing result for Courtney Sarault in the women’s 1000m final. The Canadian crossed the finish line in second place of an action-packed race, but after video review was penalized by the officials for making contact during a pass. With Sarault disqualified, the podium included Natalia Maliszewska of Poland (1:31.950), Choi Minjeong of Korea (1:31.789) and Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands (1:31.475)

The final World Cup Short Track of the season will take place next week in Dordrecht, Netherlands. It will be the final opportunity for Canadian skaters to secure Olympic quota spots and put themselves in contention to be nominated for the Beijing 2022 team.

  • “I’m really happy with my performances today. It made me realize what it was like to make the finals and go for medals. This is the first time that I experience that; it’s a feeling I never had before and I’m glad I experienced it for the first time. I was so excited and full of emotions, I managed to stay calm at times but at other times my heart was beating extremely fast. In the women’s relay final, I was all set. I had already made two finals over the weekend, and I understood what it was. I felt ready to attack.” – Florence Brunelle
  • “I played a different role in the relay today. At the last World Cup in Japan, it was me who was pushing Steven (Dubois) and him finishing the race, but last night Seb (Cros), my coach, told me that it was me who would finish the relay today. It’s a responsibility that is important and I was looking forward to doing it. I was confident; I had a good day going into it with a 1000m A Final, so when the relay rolled around, I was pumped up and it ended up working out. We gave a dominant performance.” – Jordan Pierre-Gilles
  • “I’ve been on the national team for 20 years and I haven’t been known to do that type of late pass very often. I think this is the first time I’ve done it so well. That’s what brought the team to the front and after that it was over for the other teams. We gained almost a quarter of a turn on them and then there were no further challenges until the end of the race.” – Charles Hamelin
  • “Everyone on the team has been feeling better and better as the season goes on. We started the competition with the successes of Courtney, Kim and Pascal, and that brought some positive vibes to the dressing room. Everyone wanted to perform at their best and it carried over to the relays today in Debrecen.” – Charles Hamelin