Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu & Maxime Fortin on the podium in Sherbrooke

Sherbrookois native Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu once again pleased the crowd when he took the silver medal in the 1000m, today, at the World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championship in his hometown. This time, he was joined on the podium by teammate Maxime Fortin (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), as Fortin took the bronze medal in the distance. The women’s relay team added a 6th medal to the Canadian tally this weekend when they won the silver.

Competition was tough on the men side in the 1000m, and three skaters were disqualified in semi-final, including Canadian Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Québec, QC), who finishes the distance in 7th position. This actually allowed the other two Canadians to make the final as Fortin, who was in the same heat as Blais-Dufour, made the final because two skaters were disqualified, and Gélinas-Beaulieu, third in his semi-final, took advantage of the disqualification of a Korean skater to get his place in the big final.

The scenario was the same in the final, with two Canadians, Korean You Dong-Kun and American J.R. Celski. Celski was disqualified at the end of the race, which gave silver and bronze to Gélinas-Beaulieu and Fortin respectively.

“I’d say I’m happy with myself overall”, said Maxime Fortin. “My goal was to make the finals, of course I was hoping for a medal. It didn’t come the way I would have wanted, but that’s what short track is all about. It puts a nice end to my career as a junior, and it motivates me even more to try and show what I can do among the seniors, but it’s really competitive with the men in Canada.”

The last individual race of the weekend was the Super 1500m, and only the top six skaters in the overall rankings after three distance were taking part in it. The three Korean skaters, Celski, Gélinas-Beaulieu and Russian skater Viktor Knoch were all on the start line. The race was full of passes, and it’s Um Cheon-Ho of Korea who took gold, followed by Celski and Dong-Kun. Gélinas-Beaulieu was 4th to cross the finish line, for 4th place of the overall rankings of the weekend, dominated by Koreans (Cheon-Ho is World Junior Champion, Dong-Kun 2nd and Celski of the US is 3rd). The other Canadians finish the competition in 7th overall for Maxime Fortin and 8th for Blais-Dufour.

“You can’t let your competitors intimidate you”, explained Gélinas-Beaulieu at the end of the day. “I knew it would be a fast final, but if I tell myself I can beat them, it helps. I’m really happy with my weekend, I didn’t know what to expect so I’m feeling a lot of different emotions right now!”, finished the best Canadian skater at these Championships, who also took the bronze in the 1500m Friday. Very promising for the young athlete who still has two years to skate on the junior circuit.

On the women side, Canadians were not able to make the final in the 1000m, and the three Korean skaters swept the podium (Noh Ah-Reum, Lee Eun-Byul and Lee Mi-Yeon in order). Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) was the best Canadian in the distance with 5th place, as she was third in her semi-final heat. Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC), crowned World Junior Champion in the 500m yesterday, took the 7th position and teammate Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC), bronze medallist yesterday, was 9th.

Maltais and St-Gelais both made the super final in the 1500m because of their overall ranking. Canadians skated hard in that race alongside the three Korean skaters and Italian Arianna Fontana. The Koreans were simply too strong and despite many tentatives by other athletes, they protected their positions throughout the race to finish Eun-Byul, Mi-Yeon and Ah-Reum in order. Maltais took 5th place and St-Gelais 6th.

In the overall women ranking, Koreans swept once again the podium, with Ah-Reum, Eun-Byul and Mi-Yeon in order. Marianne St-Gelais finishes the competition in 4th place overall, Maltais is 6th, and Blondin 8th. All Canadians skaters can say mission accomplished as they are all part of the 10 best junior skaters in the world, which is very promising for the Canadian team since many of these skaters will be senior next year.

The two relay finals were extremely eventful, with tight passes and falls. All this action led to two disqualifications in each race. The Italians took gold on the women side, in front of Canada. Korea and China were disqualified for cross tracking and impeding during the race.

On the men side, Canadians skated most of the race with only three skaters, as Maxime Fortin had a concussion in the final of the 1000m earlier in the day. They gave everything they had and crossed the finish line in third place, in front of the Chinese team who fell in the middle of the race, but they were disqualified along with the Koreans, which gave gold to the Americans and silver to the Chinese.

“That’s a lot of races in a day, it was really fast and we didn’t have much time to rest between each race in the end, so we had tired legs for the relay”, finished Gélinas-Beaulieu. “We did what we could!”

This puts an end to the World Junior Short Track Championship in Sherbrooke. Canadian athletes now head to Montreal where they will skate in the Canadian Open Championship next weekend at the Maurice-Richard Arena.