A perfect day in individual races for Maxime Laoun & Steven Dubois at World Junior Short Track Championships

Sofia, Bulgaria, January 29, 2016 – Maxime Laoun of Montreal (Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie borough) and Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, QC, both qualified for the final rounds of all the individual events slated this weekend following Friday's qualification races held at the ISU World Junior Short Track Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Laoun, who is taking part in the World Junior Championships for the third time, finished first in his heats in the preliminary rounds of the 500m and 1000m. Third in his heat in the 1500m quarterfinals, Laoun earned a spot in the semifinals because he was one of the two fastest skaters among the third-place finishers.

“I'm happy, but also surprised by my performances today, especially after having come up with disappointing races at my last Canadian Senior Championships,” said Maxime Laoun. “This week, things went really well in training and I kept coming up with personal bests, so my confidence level grew each day. I told myself I had nothing to lose at these World Junior Championships, which will be my last. Another key element, today, was that I was able to stay calm.”
 
“I would like very much to win a medal in at least one event and finish among the top-10 in overall standings,” added Laoun. “A top-3 result would be really great!”
 
Steven Dubois, for his part, won his heat in the 500m preliminary round and was second in his 1000m heat, in addition to skating to second place in his quarterfinal heat in the 1500m to therefore earn a berth in the final rounds of all three individual events, as he is taking part in his first-ever World Junior Championships.

“I'm really satisfied with my results, especially in the 1500m because I'm now sure to finish among the top 13 skaters in the world in that distance,” said Dubois. “In the 1000m, I was tense because there were a lot of high-level skaters in my heat.”

“I feel great physically right now. And last week, I put on some new blades and they glide better. I lose less energy when I skate. This weekend, I would like to win a medal and finish among the top-6 skaters overall.”
 
Strong Canadian content in the 500m
As did Laoun and Dubois, every other member of the Canadian team taking part in individual races qualified for the 500m final rounds, meaning there will be six Canadians in Saturday's quarterfinals in that distance.

In addition to the women's 500m, Genève Bélanger of Montreal (Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough), the Canadian junior championship title holder, also qualified for the final rounds of the 1000m event. The short track national team skater, who represented Canada at two senior World Cup stages last season and also qualified for the 2015 World Senior Championships held in Moscow, saw her run in the 1500m, however, end prematurely after she had to settle for a fourth-place finish in elimination rounds.

“In the 1500m, I was way too tense, I put too much pressure on myself and I didn't have any legs”, explained Bélanger. “I made amends in the 500m, where I skated a pretty good race, and also in the 1000m, where I skated with confidence and where, with seven laps to go, I ended up and front and pulled the race until the end.”
 
Her teammate Alyson Charles of Montreal (Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension borough) had an identical day of racing, as she will take part in the final rounds of every individual event except the 1500m, in which she was eliminated after skating to fifth place in the quarterfinals.
 
Danaé Blais of Châteauguay, QC, a member of Canada's national development team, will continue racing only in the 500m. She was eliminated in the 1500m after falling during the last lap of the quarterfinal round.
 
Canadian junior champion title holder Marc-Olivier Lemay of Montreal (Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles borough) had a similar run to that of Danaé Blais, in that he will only move on to the final rounds in the 500m event. In the 1500m, Lemay was penalized in the quarterfinals after trying to overtake, which led to a contact with a French skater and both athletes falling.
 
Canadian relay teams eliminated
The qualification day of the 2016 World Junior Championships was a tough one for the Canadian relay teams, as both squads were eliminated following the first day of competition.

The men's team, comprised of Laoun, Dubois, Lemay and Brendan Corey of Fredericton, NB, finished fourth in the quarterfinals after one of the skaters fell.
 
On the women's side, Bélanger, Blais, Charles and Jade Quevillon of Laval, QC, had to settle for third place in the elimination round and fell short as well after two falls.

On Saturday, the final rounds of the 500m and 1500m events are scheduled.

More information, including the competition schedule, is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.

TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:

1500m W
-Alyson Charles: 5th in the quarterfinals and eliminated (will take part in the ranking races Saturday)
-Danaé Blais: 6th in the quarterfinals and eliminated (will take part in the ranking races Saturday)
-Genève Bélanger: 4th in the heats and eliminated (will take part in the ranking races Saturday)

1500m M
-Steven Dubois: 2nd in the quarterfinals and will take part in the semi-finals Saturday
-Maxime Laoun: 3rd in the quarterfinals but, as one of the two fastest third place skaters, will take part in the semi-finals Saturday
-Marc-Olivier Lemay: penalty in the quarterfinals and eliminated (will take part in the ranking races Saturday)

500m W
-Alyson Charles: 2nd in the prelims and will take part in the heats Saturday
-Genève Bélanger: 2nd in the prelims and will take part in the heats Saturday
-Danaé Blais: 2nd in the prelims and will take part in the heats Saturday

500m M
-Maxime Laoun: 1st in the prelims and will take part in the heats Saturday
-Marc-Olivier Lemay: 1st in the prelims and will take part in the heats Saturday
-Steven Dubois: 1st in the prelims and will take part in the heats Saturday

1000m W
-Genève Bélanger: 1st in the prelims and will take part in the heats Sunday
-Alyson Charles: 1st in the prelims and will take part in the heats Sunday
-Danaé Blais: 4th in the heats and eliminated (will take part in the ranking races Sunday)

1000m M
-Maxime Laoun: 1st in the prelims and will take part in the heats Sunday
-Steven Dubois: 2nd in the prelims and will take part in the heats Sunday
-Marc-Olivier Lemay: 3rd in the prelims and eliminated (will take part in the ranking races Sunday)

Relay M
Canada: fourth in the quarterfinals and eliminated
(Maxime Laoun, Steven Dubois, Marc-Olivier Lemay, Brendan Corey)

Relay W
Canada: 3rd in the heats and eliminated
(Genève Bélanger, Danaé Blais, Alyson Charles, Jade Quevillon)

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 -

For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC