Canada has an almost perfect first day at the Short Track Speed Skating World Cup held in Turkey

Charles Hamelin, Marianne St-Gelais and Valérie Maltais led the Canadian national short track speed skating team which qualified directly for the final rounds in 19 cases out of a possible 20 in individual events, Friday, at the sixth and final ISU World Cup stage of the season in Erzurum, Turkey.

St-Gelais (1500m and 500m) and Maltais (1500m and 1000m (2)) both won the two heats in which they skated.

“I felt good in the 1500m, where I was able to remain patient, and I did well to gain some ground at the end by overtaking on the outside and I was able to win it by a comfortable margin,” commented Maltais. “In the 1000m, there was a lot of action, but I was able to stay up front, always first or second, and stay out of trouble. But there will probable be a lot of action again over the weekend. ”

“I wanted to skate in a 1500m before the Worlds, and I wanted to take advantage of the qualification round to get my reflexes back in that distance,” said St-Gelais, who had only taken part in 500m and 1000m races so far in this World Cup season. “I felt good, it turns out. I didn't feel as comfortable in the 500m, but considering I was almost sure to finish first or second in my heat, I mainly concentrated on protecting my spot.”

St-Gelais will look to win a medal at a sixth consecutive World Cup. So far this season, she won ten medals including seven individuals. Maltais, for her part, will try to add to the bronze medal she collected in the first 1000m of the World Cup season, in Salt Lake City.

St-Gelais and Maltais also helped the Canadian women's relay team win its first gold medal of the 2014-15 World Cup season, last weekend in Dresden, Germany.

Friday, the two veteran skaters, along with Kasandra Bradette and Genève Bélanger, finished first in their heat and qualified for Saturday's relay semifinals.

“We had the quickest time of all the heats, so we're satisfied and we can say we did a good job,” noted St-Gelais.

Charles Hamelin won all four of his races (1000m (1) and 500m), Friday, as he prevailed in both his heats at the preliminary stage and twice in the qualification round.

“I had a good day, in the 1000m especially,” said Charles Hamelin, who has climbed on the podium seven times so far this season, including five times for individual events. “I was in control, I applied the race plan perfectly. I wasn't as comfortable in the 500m, however. The ice here is a bit difficult to skate when you have to go faster, and I came close to falling. But I managed to stay up front. My time wasn't great, but I hope to have a better feeling for the ice over the rest of weekend.”

So far in this first post-Olympic year in Salt Lake City, Montreal, Shanghai, Seoul and Dresden, the national team won 21 medals including three gold, seven silver and eleven bronze at the five first World Cups.

Perfect in qualifying for Saturday
All the Canadian skaters, men and women, qualified directly for the final rounds of the two events slated for Saturday, i.e. the first of two 1000m events slated for the weekend and the 1500m.

Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC) and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) both reached the quarterfinals of Saturday's 1000m on the men's side, while François Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC), Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) and Patrick Duffy (Oakville, Ont.) will all skate in the men's 1500m semifinals.

In the women's races, Marianne St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, QC), Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, QC) and Kim Boutin (Sherbrooke, QC) will take part in the women's 1500m semifinals, while Kasandra Bradette (Saint-Félicien, QC) and Genève Bélanger (Montreal, QC), who is taking part in only the second World Cup stage of her career, have qualified for the quarterfinals of the weekend's first 1000m.

Sunday, Charles Hamelin and Olivier Jean will begin their day in the men's 500m quarterfinal round, while Bastille and Duffy will kick things off with the quarterfinals in the second men's 1000m.

On the women's side, St-Gelais and Bradette earned their spot in the women's 500m quarterfinals, while in Sunday's 1000m, Maltais, Boutin and Bélanger will all be skating as of the quarterfinals.

François Hamelin will be the only one of the three Canadians taking part in the men's 500m to remain on the sidelines in that event, Sunday, as he was eliminated Friday after being penalized in the preliminary qualification round.

The men's relay was eliminated, Friday, after Charles Hamelin, Jean, Bastille and Duffy finished third in their heat, behind South Korea and Italy, with a time that was not good enough to go through as one of the best third-place teams.
 
The 2015 Short Track Speed Skating World Championships, last ISU international competition of the season, will be held March 13-15 in Moscow, Russia.

TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
500m W
Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
Kasandra Bradette: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday

500m M
Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
Olivier Jean: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
François Hamelin: penalty in the heats and eliminated

1000m W (1)
Kasandra Bradette: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Saturday
Genève Bélanger: 3rd in the heats but qualified for the the quarterfinals Saturday because of her time

1000m W (2)
Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
Kim Boutin: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
Genève Bélanger: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday

1000m M (1)
Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Saturday
Olivier Jean: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Saturday

1000m H (2)
Patrick Duffy: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday
Guillaume Bastille: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the quarterfinals Sunday

1500m W
Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday
Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday
Kim Boutin: 3rd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday

1500m M
Patrick Duffy: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday
Guillaume Bastille: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday
François Hamelin: 2nd in the heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday

Women's relay
Canada: 1st in the quarterfinals and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday (Valérie Maltais, Marianne St-Gelais, Kasandra Bradette, Genève Bélanger)

Men's relay
Canada: 3rd in the heats and eliminated (Guillaume Bastille, Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Patrick Duffy)
                       
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 13,000 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 sponsor Intact Insurance, 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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Jeff MacKinnon   
Coordinator, Media and Communications Services – long track
Speed Skating Canada
Email: jmackinnon@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-860-9525
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC