Road To The Olympic Games

Speed Skating

Canadian short track speed skaters Sarault, Charles hit podium in World Cup debuts

Canada opened up the short track World Cup season on a strong note, grabbing two medals in Calgary on Saturday. Courtney Lee Sarault won bronze in the women's 1500-metre, and Alyson Charles took home bronze in the women's 500.

Women win silver and bronze in respective events

Poland’s Natalia Maliszewska celebrates her victory in the women's 500-metre competition with third place finisher Canada's Alyson Charles, left, and second place finisher Holland’s Yara Van Kerkhof at the World Cup short track speed skating event in Calgary on Saturday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Courtney Sarault says her father was a "fourth-line grinder" in the NHL. She employed the same toughness in short-track speed skating to win a medal in her first World Cup final.

The 18-year-old from Moncton, N.B., earned silver in the women's 1,500 metres Saturday in Calgary.

Sarault led for much of the final, fighting off challenges by more experienced racers. But she was edged out of gold by a skate-blade tip in a photo finish with Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands.

Watch Courtney Lee Sarault win 1500m silver:

The 18-year-old started her World Cup career with authority, claiming the silver medal in the women's 1500m final at the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup. 7:46

Sarault and Schulting, the reigning Olympic champion in the 1,000 metres, went shoulder to shoulder jockeying for the win at the finish line.

Schulting went down after the two skaters crossed, but was awarded the win upon video replay.

"I was a centimetre away from a gold medal and for my first World Cup that's really, really amazing for me," Sarault said.

"I wasn't intimidated by the other girls. I know they're Olympians and stuff, but I went in [thinking] 'well, I'm from Canada and my country is strong and I worked hard to get here and I deserve a spot."'

Her father Yves played a total of 106 NHL games with Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Nashville.

"He was a fourth-line grinder. Third line sometimes," Sarault said. "I definitely got my determination from my dad.

"I wish I could have pushed a little bit harder at the end there. The race isn't done until the line. This is my first World Cup. I'm still learning."

CBC's Kelly VanderBeek catches up with Courtney Sarault after her World Cup debut in the women's 1500m. 0:37

Ekaterina Efremenkova of Russia took bronze in the race.

The World Cup in Calgary kicked off not only the 2018-19 season for Canada's national team, but the next quadrennial to the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Canada's next generation of short-trackers began emerging at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where 21-year-old Samuel Girard won gold and 23-year-old Kim Boutin collected a silver and two bronze.

That trend continued Saturday with Sarault and Montreal's Alyson Charles.

The 20-year-old Charles, who celebrated her birthday Tuesday, also won a medal in her first World Cup final with a bronze in the women's 500 metres.

Watch Alyson Charles win 500m bronze:

The Montreal native posted a time of 43.449 seconds to capture a bronze medal in the women's 500m race at the ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Calgary. 3:30

"I was trying to stay calm because it was the first final in my first World Cup," Charles said. "I didn't really expect that. I was just like 'take it easy and give it your all.'

"I was planning to get off the start strong and I knew that the first two girls right beside me were really strong in that distance. I was trying to build up some speed to make a move at the end. It went well."

CBC's Kelly VanderBeek speaks with Alyson Charles after her bronze medal performance in the 500m. 1:01

Natalia Maliszewska of Poland took gold and Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands captured silver.

Sarault, Charles and teammates Claudia Gagnon of Saguenay, Que., and Montreal's Camille de Serres-Rainville qualified the women's relay team for Sunday's final.

The Canadian men's relay team of Girard, three-time Olympic gold medallist Charles Hamelin of Saint-Julie, Que., Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., and Montreal's Pascal Dion also advanced to Sunday's final.

Dion reached the men's 1,500-metre final and finished fifth. Japan's Kazuki Yoshinaga, Lee June Seo of South Korea and Vladislav Bykanov of Israel took gold, silver and bronze, respectively.

Watch Day 3: 

With the ISU Short Track World Cup season getting underway in Calgary this weekend, CBC Sports' Anson Henry previews Canada's new-look team. 1:22

A mixed relay with teams made up of two men and two women will make its Olympic debut in 2022.

Charles, Alison Desmarais of Vanderhoof, B.C., Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, Que., and Cedrik Blais of Chateauguay, Que., finished third in their semifinal heat to fall short of Sunday's final.

Wu Dajing of China, Shaoang Liu of Hungary and Kim Gun Woo of South Korea, finished first to third, respectively, in the men's 500 metres.

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