Canada selects skaters for short track winter season
Marianne St-Gelais, Charles Hamelin earn spots at senior nationals
Speed Skating Canada named its first six skaters to earn spots for the upcoming world short track championships and the two winter World Cups of the 2015-2016 season.
Marianne St-Gelais, Valerie Maltais and Kasandra Bradette will represent the women's side for Canada while Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard and Charles Cournoyer were named for the men's competition following their performances at the Canadian senior championships that ended on Sunday.
St-Gelais, Maltais, and Bradette finished first, second and third, respectively, in combined standings that included results from the Canadian senior championships as well as those from either the fall World Cup selections or the Canadian open national qualifier.
St-Gelais, from Saint-Felicien, Que., won the women's 1,000-metre final on Sunday, coming up with her third gold medal of the weekend after previously collecting the national titles in the 500 and 1,500 races.
St-Gelais finished in one minute 31.885 seconds, ahead of Maltais (1:31.986) and Bradette (1:32.047).
"What was at stake for me this week was to qualify for the world championships and race in a way that would help me be ready for the upcoming competitions," said St-Gelais, who was 11th in overall standings at last year's world championships.
Maltais, from La Baie-Que., also ended on a positive note at the competition, which started with a seventh-place finish in Friday's 1,500 and was followed by a bronze medal in Saturday's 500 before she came up with silver in Sunday's 1,000. She then skated to a fourth-place finish in the 3,000.
Bradette, from Saint-Felicien, Que., ended up 13th in Friday's 1,500, collected silver in Saturday's 500 and followed it up with bronze in Sunday's 1,000 before concluding the competition with a fifth-place result in the 3,000.
Jamie MacDonald (6:11.415) of Fort St. James, B.C., won the women's 3,000, followed by Marie-Eve Drolet of Laterriere, Que., and Audrey Phaneuf of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que.
Cournoyer won the men's 1,000 final on Sunday with a time of 1:24.269 to finish ahead of Girard (1:24.310) and Toronto's William Preudhomme (1:24.452).
Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., stepped on the podium for the first time this weekend. He was fourth in the 1,500 and 3,000 events and 14th in the 500.
"After the unfortunate turn of events for me in yesterday's 500m, I had a good day today," said Cournoyer, who won bronze in the 500 at the 2014 Olympic Games. "I showed that I can skate at a world championship level. I'm very happy about my weekend, even if I had highs and lows."
Girard, of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., ended up on the podium in all events on the weekend except for the 3,000, where he was seventh. He won silver in the 1,000 and the 1,500, as well as bronze in the 500.
Hamelin, who won the 500 and the 1,500, settled for fifth place in Sunday's 1,000 (1:25.083) behind Calgary's Sasha Fathoullin (1:24.705). He was sixth in the men's 3,000.
Olivier Jean (4:50.812) of Lachenaie, Que., skated to victory in the 3,000, finishing ahead of Cedrik Blais (4:59.065) of Chateauguay, Que., and Preudhomme (5:00.690).
Canada will send a team of five women and five men to the world short track championships in Seoul, South Korea in March as well as a group of six women and six men at World Cup stages No. 5 and No. 6, to take place in Dresden, Germany and Dordrecht, Netherlands in February.
By finishing 1-2 in the women's competition, St-Gelais and Maltais also clinched spots for the individual distances at the world championships, as did Hamelin on the men's side by finishing first. In Seoul, Canada will have three representatives on the women's team and two on the men's squad for the individual races.
The skaters set to earn the other vacant spots on the Canadian team, for the three international competitions to come as well as for the individual events at the world championships, will be announced at a later date.