Canada excelled in the ISU World Cup short track speed skating debut in Toronto this weekend, winning nine medals.
Canadians ended the second day of finals making five podium trips – three for gold – on Sunday, adding to the four medals from Saturday in Toronto (more on this below under ‘Saturday Races’). It was the first time that a short track World Cup event was hosted in Canada’s biggest city. Canada and South Korea each won nine medals in Toronto.
Four-time Olympic medallist Charles Hamelin made it a Canadian men’s 500m sweep at the top of the podium this weekend. A day after Sam Girard grabbed gold in the first of two finals at this distance, it was Hamelin’s turn to take the top prize. Girard finished fifth on his second day of racing the distance.
“It’s impossible to know what will happen in a race,” Hamelin said after his second World Cup gold of the season, the other coming in the 1000m last week. “Today, the races were perfect for me, the ice was great and times were good. I needed to be patient and good defensively in the last laps. I managed to deliver and take home gold.”
Charle Cournoyer won his first World Cup gold of the season. A week after taking silver in the 500m in Montreal, Cournoyer skated double the distance and bettered the result in the 1000m at the second stop of the 2015-16 World Cup season.
“It feels good,” Cournoyer reflected on his start to season. “My return to competition is off to a good start with two medals in four events. I can’t wish for anything better, with gold to top it off, everything is great.”
The men’s team ended the day by thrilling the home crowd with a third gold medal. This one was a group effort arriving in the men’s 5000m relay. Hamelin, Cournoyer and Girard were joined by Patrick Duffy to edge South Korea, while China was third.
Team Canada women delivered two more medals on Sunday. Marianne St-Gelais won silver in the 500m, losing by an agonizing one thousandth of a second to Choi Minjeong of South Korea. Valerie Maltais crossed the finish line in third place for the bronze in women’s 1000m.
For St-Gelais, it was her second individual medal in two days and four already this season, but not winning a gold this weekend clearly stung.
“I’m a little disappointed, but at the same time that’s short track,” St-Gelais said. “I was thinking about the win a little too soon. It was a mistake on my part at the end of the race. I stretched my foot the best I could. I let go a little too early mentally, but at the same time it really was a great race.”
The third stop in the World Cup series will begin the Asian leg in Nagoya, Japan followed by Shanghai, China on back-to-back weekends in early to mid December.
A 1-2 finish in the men’s 500m helped Canada to four medals on Saturday in the first ever short track speed skating World Cup in Toronto.
Samuel Girard took gold, ahead of Sasha Fathoullin, making it two individual medals in as many World Cups this season for Girard. He was second behind Charles Hamelin last weekend in Montreal in the men’s 1000m.
“I continued to work hard this week and to prepare myself to be mentally ready to win a gold medal this weekend, and in Canada once again, it’s amazing,” Girard, 19, said following his win.
“I’m really proud for my team, I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it without them to be honest, they were by my side through all of it,” 20-year-old Fathoullin said of his first World Cup trip to the podium.
Canada’s other two medals came from the clockwork-like Marianne St-Gelais, and fellow Olympian Francois Hamelin. Both skaters won bronze in their respective 1500m races. It was St-Gelais’ third individual World Cup medal of the season, coming in three different races.
“There aren’t that many skaters in the world that can reach all three finals (500m, 1000m and 1500m) and win medals. I’m now part of that group,” St-Gelais said.
There will be another 500m race for men and women on Sunday, giving Canadians a chance to pad their take of the hardware in Toronto. Last week in Montreal, Canada won seven medals total, five of them coming on the second day of finals.