Kim Boutin captured gold and Marianne St-Gelais claimed a bronze on the first day of finals at the short track speed skating World Cup in Shanghai.
There was no rust on Boutin when the circuit resumed after a month-long break as she finished first in the women’s 500m by less than a tenth of a second. Italy’s Arianna Fontana just edged out Russian Sofia Prosvirnova for the silver.
Already with three individual silvers this season, including one in the 500m at the last World Cup stop in Dordrecht, Boutin stood atop the podium for the first time this fall. It is her second career World Cup victory, following a 1500m gold last season.
“I didn’t race like I wanted. That’s in part because I tried some (new) things today, so I learned some valuable lessons and that’s a positive,” Boutin told Speed Skating Canada. “But I’m happy with the result. I was confident and I came up with great times (per lap), which allowed me to pull ahead.”
“My goal today was to play around with my speed and I was a little surprised when (Fontana) overtook me in the first straightaway,” Boutin added. “The lesson here is that I need to give it my all at the start.”
Charles Hamelin just missed the podium in the men’s 500m, finishing fourth.
St-Gelais was one of two Canadians in the women’s 1500m final. She finished just behind a pair of Koreans, Shim Suk Hee and Choi Min Jeong, for her spot on the podium. St-Gelais beat teammate Valerie Maltais to the finish line by about a tenth of a second. At one point the Canadians had been running second and third, but Maltais missed a chance to block Choi from passing.
This marked the first time St-Gelais had competed in the 1500m this season. After missing the national selection trials because of a concussion, she eased her way back into competition mode, skating just the 500m individually at the first World Cup stop in Budapest before adding the 1000m in Dordrecht, where she won 500m gold.
“I was a little nervous before the race because I felt a little rusty in terms of my strategic approach,” said St-Gelais. “But my goal today was just that, to regain some confidence in that distance in terms of strategy. It worked out well, so there was no reason to worry, I realized that the foundation was still there. I skate a lot by instinct and it ended up being a good race.”
Also on Saturday, Canada advanced to the finals of both relays. Those will be contested on Sunday along with the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals for the 1000m as skaters continue to collect points towards Olympic qualification.