Sasha (Alexander) Fathoullin reacted like a veteran although he was skating in his first-ever career World Cup, Friday, as he qualified for the final rounds in both his races on the first day of the first stage of the 2015-2016 ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating season, which is taking place at Montreal's Maurice Richard Arena until Sunday.
Fathoullin, a 20-year-old skater from Calgary, Alberta, qualified for the quarterfinal round of the weekend's first 1000m event, to be raced Saturday, as well as for the 500m quarterfinals set for Sunday.
“I didn't come here with expectations that were too great. I just wanted to get a feel for things at my first World Cup. To win my first race (the 1000m) was more than I expected, so I'm really happy,” said Fathoullin, whose family was in attendance, giving him “a really solid feeling inside”.
Fathoullin also said he took a relaxed approach to his races, something he has not always done in the past. In his opinion, this relaxed state is what helped him earn better results.
“Now I try to have fun and not take these races as a life-or-death situation,” he said. “It makes for races that are smoother and more envoyable. I think that's key, because I think sports should always be fun.”
Overall, nine Canadian skaters earned spots in elimination rounds for both of their races, i.e. five men and four women. In addition to Fathoullin, that list includes Charles Hamelin (1000m and 1500m) and François Hamelin (500m and 1000m), both from Sainte-Julie, Qc, Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Qc (1000m and 1500m) as well as Patrick Duffy of Oakville, ON (1000m and 1500m) on the men's side; Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, Qc (500m and 1000m), Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Qc (1000m and 1500m), Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien, Qc (500m and 1000m) and Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Qc (1000m and 1500m) did the same in the women's races.
The Canadian team is therefore in a good position to attain the objective it set for itself over the weekend, which is to win 10 individual medals.
“I saw my team skate today and I'm completely confident that we will reach that objective,” said veteran skater Marianne St-Gelais. “The men were very fast in the 500m and the 1000m, and the women were solid in all the distances. So honestly, that objective doesn't scare me. We're on the right track, we're at the level we need to be. We have the desire to win races, and (Saturday), we'll try to come up with five medals, which means that half the job will be done!”
First in his heat in the men's 1000m, Charles Hamelin had to settle for second place in his 1500m heat, only one thousandth of a second away from Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt, the reigning world champion.
“It was a fast race, but I felt very good physically and technically. Finishing first or second didn't matter to me, the important thing was to qualify,” said the veteran skater, who won the gold medal in the 1500m at the 2014 Olympic Games. “I still tried to go for a first-place finish in the last stretch... but I missed it by a thousandth of a second!”
Cournoyer feels stronger
Charles Cournoyer (Boucherville, Qc) qualified for Sunday's 500m quarterfinals after finishing first in both of his heats in that distance, Friday. A fall in the competition's first 1000m, which happened when an opponent he had just overtaken made contact with the blade of his skate, will force him to go through the repechage heats on Saturday morning.
The 24 year-old skater, who won a bronze medal in the 500m at the 2014 Olympic Games, remained optimistic about his chances over the weekend. He said he feels much stronger after a tough 2014-2015 season, during which he was coming off an operation to both shoulders and a broken foot.
“This summer, training went quite well with the group, and I find I'm stronger than I was before,” said Cournoyer. “Now, I just need to make sure it shows during races.”
Audrey Phaneuf (Boucherville, Qc) had a day that was similar to Cournoyer's, as she qualified for Saturday's 1000m quarterfinals, but fell in the second 1000m, meaning she will have to go through repechage heats on Sunday morning.
“I'm very happy with my first race, I applied my race plan and I ended up second in my heat behind the world champion (South Korea's Minjeong Choi), so that's something,” pointed out Phaneuf, who is skating in her fourth career World Cup, but her first on Canadian soil. “I would have liked to have done better in the second 1000m, but these things happen. It's just unfortunate that I wasn't able to show what I'm capable of.”
Jamie MacDonald (Fort St. James, B.C.), who is also taking part in her first career World Cup at the age of 21, was fourth in her heat in the 1500m and will have to go through Saturday's repechage heats in that distance, while she was eliminated in the 500m after being penalized.
Both Canadian relays qualified for Saturday's semifinals. On the women's side, St-Gelais, Maltais, Bradette and MacDonald finished first in their heat, while the men's relay, comprised of Charles Hamelin, Duffy, Fathoullin and Girard, took second place in their heat.
The first men's and women's 1000m races as well as the 1500m events will take place on Saturday, with the repechage heats starting at 9:45 am, while the elimination rounds, starting with the quarterfinals, will kick off at 1 pm. The second 1000m events will follow on Sunday, as will the 500m races, with the repechage heats starting at 9:10 am and the elimination rounds at 1 pm.
Overall, a total of 137 athletes from 23 countries, i.e. 56 women and 81 men, will vye for medals in the 500m, the 1500m, the relay and two 1000m races slated during the weekend.
In addition to the Canadian team, fans of speed events will be able to see nine of the top 10 women in last season's World Championship overall standings, as well as eight of the top 10 men.
Several of speed skating's marquee athletes are on hand, including 2015 world champions Minjeong Choi of South Korea and Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, as well as Olympic medalists Suk Hee Shim et Kim Alang of South Korea, in addition to China's Kexin Fan, Jingnan Shi, Tianyu Han and Dajing Wu, who are all sure to provide exciting moments on the ice.
Tickets and the complete schedule for the races are available at http://www.coupedumondemtl.ca/eng/tickets/.
Saturday, October 31: trick or treat with Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais
At the end of the competition program on Saturday, October 31, Halloween Day, members of the Canadian team will meet with fans for an autograph session.
In addition, during the session, Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais will give out candy to the first 250 people, first and foremost to kids and to people wearing a costume.
The organizing committee is therefore inviting everyone to dress up on Saturday, October 31 – Halloween Day.
Broadcast on CBC and Radio-Canada
The 1000m and 1500 finals, both on the women's and men's side, will be broadcast on CBC and its web site at cbcsports.ca, the official broadcaster of the event, on Saturday, October 31 from 5 pm to 6 pm (Eastern Time).
The following day, CBC will broadcast the men's and women's 500m and 1000m finals from 3 pm to 4 pm.
French-speaking fans can also follow the competition, as races will be webcast on the radio-canada.ca website from 1 pm to 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
-Kim Boutin: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Valérie Maltais: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Jamie MacDonald: 4th in the heats and will take part in the repechage heats Saturday morning
-Charles Hamelin: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Samuel Girard: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Patrick Duffy: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
1000m (1) W
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Kasandra Bradette: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Audrey Phaneuf: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
1000m (1) M
-François Hamelin: 1st in qualification and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Sasha (Alexander) Fathoullin: 1st in qualification and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Charle Cournoyer: 5th (fall) in heats and will take part in the repechage heats Saturday morning
-Charle Cournoyer: 1er 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-François Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Sasha (Alexander) Fathoullin: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Kasandra Bradette: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Jamie MacDonald: penalty in the heats and eliminated
1000m (2) W
-Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Kim Boutin: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Audrey Phaneuf: fall and will take part in the repechage heats Sunday morning
1000m (2) M
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Samuel Girard: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Patrick Duffy: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
Canada: 1st in their heat and will take part in the semifinal Saturday
(Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette, Jamie MacDonald)
Canada: 2nd in their heat and will take part in the semifinal Saturday
(Charles Hamelin, Patrick Duffy, Sasha (Alexander) Fathoullin, Samuel Girard)
More details available on Speed Skating Canada's web site at www.speedskating.ca.
About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for competitive long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, the association is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial branches representing more than 14,000 individual members, and counting. SSC believes that sport is an apprenticeship for life and prizes respect for others, integrity, excellence of effort, as well as a safe, healthy environment. SSC recognizes and values its outstanding volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise. It also celebrates the 63 Olympic medals won by Canadian athletes since 1932, as well as the coaches, officials and other dedicated individuals who helped them on their journey.
SSC is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values including our premium sponsors Intact Insurance, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.
- 30 -
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Phone: 514 213-9897