Canada earns 13 direct spots in final rounds at ISU World Cup Short Track stage in Belarus

Minsk, Belarus, February 10, 2017 – The Canadian short track speed skating team qualified for 13 direct spots out of a possible 15 in the final rounds of the ISU World Cup stage to be held until Sunday in Minsk, Belarus, following Friday's qualification rounds. Canada has set a goal of winning four individual medals at this weekend's competition.
 
While this goal of four medals has been set exclusively for the women's team, it is the male skaters who had the most outstanding results in Friday's qualification rounds, notably François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, and Patrick Duffy from Oakville, ON, but who trains in Montreal. Hamelin and Duffy both won their qualification heats in the 500m and 1000m to clinch spots in the quarterfinals of these two events, set for this weekend.
 
Duffy registered the fastest time in his qualification heat in the first of two 1000m events slated for this weekend, and the sixth time in the 500m.
 
“My day was solid, I couldn't have asked for more,” said Patrick Duffy, who is back on the World Cup circuit after taking part in the two Asian stages, but skipping last weekend's Dresden stage.

“The 1000m was tricky because I knew I could win, but the pace ended up being pretty fast. However, some would say I'm peaking! The 500m was a more quiet race. I didn't expect to finish first with high quality skaters like Sjinkie Knegt involved. But I was able to force the other skaters to react to my movements instead of me reacting to theirs. Because of that, when I got out front I was able to stay there.”
 
François Hamelin also won both his qualification heats on Friday.
 
“I'm satisfied with how my day went. I opted for a more conservatice approach, to avoid falling into traps. The ice is really not good, it's not our friend at the moment, and it makes it easy to get caught off guard. But it adds to the challenge during races,” said François Hamelin.
 
Two members of the Canadian team, Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, QC, and Pascal Dion of Montreal, QC, had to opt out of individual events on Friday.
 
Kim Boutin suffered a hip injury during training earlier this week and will not skate in her individual events this weekend.
 
As for Pascal Dion, he fell during his qualification heat in the 1500m when he was overtaken by another skater, and he suffered some rib and back pain. Although he was advanced, Dion does not know yet if he will be able to take part in Saturday's semifinals in that event. Because he did not skate in the qualification round of the second 1000m event slated this weekend, Dion was eliminated from that event.

As did Boutin, Dion made an appearance in the qualification races of the relay event on Friday to allow Canada to have the required minimum of four skaters in order to participate. With basically three skaters, the Canadian women’s and men’s relay teams qualified for Saturday's semifinals.
 
“The relay was definitely the hardest race I've ever done,” said Patrick Duffy. “With Pascal being injured, it was up to François, Guillaume (Bastille) and I to get the job done. We were ready for the pain and we had a good objective of just sticking behind Great Britain, but that race was a doozy for sure.”
 
“I think it's good for our team to work under such conditions,” said François Hamelin. “We're used to good conditions in Montreal and that's one of our most glaring weaknesses in the relay. I'm very happy about the financial support that the Fédération de patinage de vitesse du Québec and BC Speed Skating Association have given us, allowing us to take part in this competition, because I need these races. I need to finetune my approach in races and be more proactive. I won't be taking part in the World Championships, so this is a great opportunity for me.”
 
Aside from Dion in the 1500m, Guillaume Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup, QC, Valérie Maltais from Saguenay, QC, and Jamie Macdonald of Fort St-James, B.C., all qualified for Saturday's semifinals, while Kasandra Bradette from Saint-Félicien, QC, will have to go through repechage heats in hopes of joining François Hamelin and Duffy in the 1000m (1) quarterfinals.
 
On Sunday, Bradette won't need to go through the repechage to skate in the 500m quarterfinals, and neither will Hamelin and Duffy, unlike Jamie Macdonald, who is aiming to win two medals this weekend. In the second 1000m event, Valérie Maltais et Guillaume Bastille will be the only Canadian representatives.

Saturday's schedule will feature the repechage and final rounds in the first 1000m event and in the 1500m, as well as the relay semifinals.

The participation of the skaters at this World Cup has been made possible by the financial support of the provincial associations from British Columbia and Quebec. The FPVQ is holding a fundraising event regarding this initiative, which can be found at www.fpvq.org.
 
TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m W
Kasandra Bradette: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
Jamie Macdonald: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the repechage Sunday

500m M
François Hamelin: 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

1000m (1) W
Kasandra Bradette: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the repechage Saturday

1000m (1) M
François Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
Patrick Duffy: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday

1000m (2) W
Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday

1000m (2) M
Guillaume Bastille: 2nd in the heats but will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday as one of the eight fastest second place skaters

1500m W
Jamie Macdonald: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
Valérie Maltais: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday

1500m M
Guillaume Bastille: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
Pascal Dion: 5th in the heats but advanced and will take part in the semifinals Saturday

Relay W
Canada: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
(Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette, Kim Boutin, Jamie Macdonald)

Relay M
Canada: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
(Guillaume Bastille, François Hamelin, Patrick Duffy, Pascal Dion)
 
More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: 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 and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
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