Pascal Dion silver tops trio of Canadian short track medallists
Courtney Sarault, Kim Boutin deliver bronze in separate women’s races in Hungary
Pascal Dion's early-season success on the ice extended beyond the 1,000-metre distance on Saturday.
The Montreal speed skater finished second in the men's 1,500, his first World Cup medal in the event, behind China's Ren Ziwei in short track action in Debrecen, Hungary.
Dion maintained his second-place position with fewer than five laps remaining while teammate Charles Hamelin slipped to sixth from third in his first A Final of this World Cup season.
Dion crossed the finish line in two minutes 13.048 seconds, with Ziwei clocking 2:12.910 and Park Jang Hyuk of South Korea third in 2:13.125.
WATCH | Dion trails only Chinese opponent in Hungary:
"A first career medal in the 1500 is exceptional, especially a silver medal," the 27-year-old Dion told Speed Skating Canada. "Some of my best results in the past few years were in the 1500.
"I had quite a few fourth-place finishes, so it feels good to finally win a medal in this distance. I knew I had the legs to do it but just needed the execution to be there."
On Oct. 31, Dion captured bronze in the men's 1,000, his second medal in the distance in as many races this World Cup season, and relay gold with Steven Dubois, Jordan Pierre-Gilles and Hamelin in Nagoya, Japan.
On the women's side, fellow Canadians Courtney Sarault of Moncton, N.B., and Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que., picked up bronze medals in the 1,500 and 500, respectively.
Sarault, 21, sat in the back of the pack for much of the race and passed a pair of skaters in the final lap for her second medal in the distance of the season after collecting silver in Beijing in October. Her time of 2:23.118 placed her behind Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands (2:23.009) and Yubin Lee of South Korea (2:23.101).
WATCH | Sarault takes bronze in Debrecen:
"I feel that I lacked a bit of confidence going into this race. I was thinking about the strategy that I used in the 1500 at the last World Cup, which probably wasn't the best idea," Sarault said. "I knew the A Final was going to be a very difficult and fast race and I wish I would've made a move towards the front a little bit sooner because I think it would have helped me finish in a better position.
"Unfortunately, I was stuck in a bad spot near the back. It's too bad, but I'm still proud of my result."
Boutin, 26, returned to the international podium for the first since capturing five consecutive World Cup gold in the 500 metres during 2019-2020 campaign.
She was in the lead for the first three laps of the race, thanks to a quick start, but was overtaken by Schulting (42.566 seconds) and Italy's Arianna Fontana (42.801) after her left blade slipped out from under her in one of the straights. Boutin crossed the finish line in 42.860.
WATCH | Boutin wins bronze in the 500 final:
"I had a lot of fun racing today. It felt nice to see how fast I could go once again," Boutin said. "I felt great on the ice and had some good starts.
"I'm happy with the way I approached my race. In years past, I was much more nervous and had less fun racing in those kinds of situations."
Seventeen-year-old Florence Brunelle of Trois-Rivières, Que., was fourth, surpassing her previous career-best of 11th from each of the first two World Cups of the season.
Canada's relay teams finished Day 1 of competition on a positive note, advancing to their respective A Finals with quality performances.
Competition concludes Sunday with the finals in the 1,000 and three relays — men, women and mixed. The races will be live streamed at CBC Sports starting at 8 a.m. ET.