Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais dominate Canadian Championships

Canada will be well-represented at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, with guaranteed attendance by Charles Hamelin, Marianne St-Gelais, and recruits Samuel Girard and Kim Boutin.

All four were top-ranked at the Canadian Short Track Championships that took place in Montreal at the end of last week. Hamelin got off to a strong start, winning the 1500m on Friday, then the 500m on Saturday, followed by the 1000m on Sunday. He came second in his last race on Sunday, the 3000m. St-Gelais also won gold medals in the 500m, 1000m, and 1500m. At the end of the competition, both skaters had also won the points race.

Samuel Girard, 18, came second in the rankings due to the points he had accumulated from the four individual event A finals. He came second in the 1500m, third in the 500m, fourth in the 1000m, and seventh in the 3000m.

“My goal was to finish in the top 3 over the weekend, and it is very satisfying when we achieve what we set out to do. And I came in second, which is even better because this guarantees that I will skate (in individual races) in Moscow,” said Girard at a Speed Skating Canada press conference.

Much to her surprise, Sherbrooke’s Kim Boutin finished right behind St-Gelais in the overall rankings. She won the 3000m in 5:04.760, and finished second in the 1500m, and fourth in the 500m. The two recruits will participate for the first time at the Senior World Championships scheduled March 13-15.

“It will be hard at the World Championships. It will be a constant fight to win a spot among the best in the world,” declared Boutin.

Ontarian Patrick Duffy and Quebecers Guillaume Bastille, Kasandra Bradette and Valérie Maltais, who finished third and fourth respectively in the overall rankings for men and women, will also travel to Moscow.

I somewhat expected this ranking. The team resembles one we had at the World Cup in the fall, and it is a team that I am confident in, because it knows how to do well. – Marianne St-Gelais

Although five male skaters and five female skaters will be at the World Championships, only a total of three men and three women per country will start in the individual races. The next races at the Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain, will decide the rest of the team.

Shortly thereafter, these eight skaters will be at the Winter World Cup. They can be followed in February in Dresden, Germany, and Erzurum, Turkey. Two men and two women will complete the team, depending on the discretionary choice of Speed Skating Canada, who will announce the selections in due course.

Marianne St-Gelais (Photo: Julien Heon)

Marianne St-Gelais (Photo: Julien Heon)

Since the start of the World Cup season, the Canadian team has amassed a total of 13 individual medals and 4 relay medals. Marianne St-Gelais leads her team with the most, having won at least one individual medal at each of the World Cups. She initiated the first step in Salt Lake City, with gold in the 1000m, and bronze in the 500m. Then, last November, at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal, she stepped up onto the second spot on the podium. In Shangai, she won silver in the 500m, and in Seoul, silver in the 1000m.

Photos: Julien Heon