Canadian short track championships: Marie-Eve Drolet back after giving birth
Skater welcomed daughter last January
Marie-Eve Drolet is confident she can make Canada's short track speed skating team again nearly a year after the 33-year-old had her first baby.
Drolet is among 64 athletes — 32 men and 32 women — who will take part in the Canadian championships starting Friday at the Maurice Richard Arena.
CBCSports.ca will be live streaming the entire event.
At stake are spots on Canada's teams for the two last World Cup meets of the season in February and the world championships March 11-13 in Seoul.
Drolet gave birth to a daughter, Zoey, last Jan. 27 and resumed on-ice training in August.
"After the delivery I felt a bit crappy, a bit fat," she said this week. "It was a goal to come back healthy and in shape.
"I liked the challenge of going from not too good to competing at a really high level."
The Chicoutimi, Que., native has done it before.
After helping the Canadian relay team to a bronze medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Drolet retired. She moved around the country doing different jobs and earned a degree in psychology along the way, then returned to the ice six years later.
She didn't qualify for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, but was back on the team for 2014 in Sochi, Russia, where she won silver in the women's relay.
Now she's back again after another break from her sport, although this time in the dual role of mother and athlete.
"It's not too bad," she said. "My husband is at home for now, helping me.
"I'm still breast feeding in the morning and at night. I train during the day. I though it would be harder than it is."
As for regaining top form on the ice, she said "I feel 100 per cent.
"I want to make the team. If not... I don't know."
The Canadian team has been on a tear this season, collecting 32 medals from the first four World Cup meets. The usual suspects, multiple Olympic medallists Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais of Ste-Julie, Que., have led the way, but Francois Hamelin of Ste-Julie and Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., have also been hot.
Cournoyer missed most of last season with injuries, but has bounced back with six medals, including three in individual races.
"It was hard to get back in shape, but with all the success the team had this season, it was fantastic," said Cournoyer, a bronze medallist in the 500-metre event in Sochi.
Team veteran Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., is also mounting a comeback . He competed in the first four long-track World Cups this season but has returned to short track to try to make the world championship squad. He is coming off a second-place finish in the 1,500 metres at the national long-track championships in Calgary.
He has yet to decide which sport will be his focus for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but said it will be one or the other starting next season.
"I'm not going to be 100 per cent," he said. "But this season is an investment, to see what are the possibilities for the future.
"I have so much experience in short track that it felt natural to be back on the ice."
Francois Hamelin will be in his first meet since he suffered a concussion in a crash in Shanghai in December. At 29, the nine-year national team veteran is enjoying his best campaign, including his first win in an individual race in Japan.
With files from CBC Sports