What happens when your biggest competitor is also your training partner?
Canadian short track speed skaters Charle Cournoyer and Samuel Girard often find themselves in this exact situation when they step on the ice. At the World Cup opener on Sunday, the pair went head-to-head in the 1000m final. Cournoyer won gold and Girard took silver, finishing only 45 milliseconds apart.
Both agreed that when they skate up to the start line they’re not racing as a team, however, Cournoyer did admit he doesn’t exactly treat Girard like other racers. “When I attempt a pass on other skaters, I stick to them to force them to stop skating to let me pass. I’m not doing that with Samuel. I make sure to always do clean and smooth passes,” said the Sochi 2014 bronze medallist.
The Canadians exchanged the lead throughout the race, but with three laps to go it Cournoyer made his way to the front of the pack. “With two or three laps to go, I told myself that if I could make the pass that I was going to do, explained the 25-year-old. At the same time, if I had judged it too risky, I would not have done it and would rather have stayed behind him to block the other skaters. ”
“When we find ourselves in the top two positions, we try to cycle smoothly, it’s a win-win situation,” added Girard. Was Girard upset? Not at all. “I’m not angry at Charle for passing me. Ultimately we want to win a medal for Canada and we will do everything in our power to get there, even if it means being pushed to second place, ” said the skater nicknamed Charles Hamelin‘s heir.
Cournoyer couldn’t agree with his teammate more, “I spend more than twenty hours a week with Samuel, it’s my training partner. Two medals for Canada is extraordinary! On the podium, we prove to everyone that we had a good training season this summer and that it’s paying off. ”
The two will bring this friendly rivalry to Salt Lake City next weekend, for the second stop of the World Cup circuit.