Canada twice one spot shy of the podium on last day of Montreal World Cup

The Canadian women's relay team and Yoan Gauthier both were able to put themselves in good position for a medal, Sunday, on the last day of the ISU short track World Cup held in Montreal. But due to the hazards inherent to their sport, they both had to settle for fourth place.

While this constitutes a slight setback for the women's 3,000m relay, which had earned a bronze medal the previous week in Salt Lake City, during the first weekend of the 2014-15 World Cup season, Gauthier's fourth place in the 500m event held Sunday, at Maurice Richard Arena, shows promise for the future.

Gauthier, who was taking part in only his second World Cup after making his debut in Salt Lake City, posted his best result so far as he qualified for his first-ever A final at a World Cup. He was 7th in the 1,000m last week.

Solid in Sunday's quarter-final race, as he progressed from fourth place to third and then second, Gauthier lost his balance towards the end of the semifinal following a contact with a Chinese opponent. The latter was sanctioned and Gauthier was awarded a spot in the A final by the officials.

In the final, Gauthier was third when he lost speed during a brush with Russian skater Vladimir Grigorev, and had to settle for fourth. The 21-year-old athlete from Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, settled for a time of 40.789 seconds, behind Russia's Dmitry Migunov (40.434) and Grigorev (40.507), as well as John-Henry Krueger (40.622) from the United States.

“There's a lot of positives”, said Gauthier. “Even if I didn't win a medal, I think I skated well. I was able to overtake some of the best skaters in the world during the afternoon, so I proved to everyone, and myself in particular, that I can fight in tough conditions.”

“I've learned a lot in these two World Cups. The Yoan Gauthier here today is very different from the one in Salt Lake City.”

The four skaters in the women's relay were the same who won bronze in Salt Lake City, i.e. Quebecers Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke and Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien. Joanie Gervais of Jonquière and Courtney Shmyr of Langley, B.C., also skated in the previous rounds.

After moving up to second place in the middle of the race and staying there during several laps, the Canadians lost ground towards the end and St-Gelais fell on the last turn before the finish. What seemed destined to be a silver medal, and then a bronze medal, turned into fourth place.

South Korea won it in 4:09.985, and was followed by Italy (4:11.006) and Russia (4:13.602).

“It breaks my heart, but it's part of the game,” said St-Gelais of the unfortunate ending to the race. “We were looking to gain some ground, I went for it but it didn't work out. We have to be ready to live with it.”

After coming up with a total of four medals in Salt Lake City, Canada comes out of the Montreal World Cup with one medal overall, the silver collected by St-Gelais in Saturday's 500m race.

St-Gelais and Canadian team coach Frédéric Blackburn took the weekend's results in stride, saying that the team has an approach, over the first four World Cups this season, whereby they are pushing to take risks and experiment with new strategies in order to improve in time for the World Championships. Even if that means failing in the meantime.

“First place was out of reach these last few years, but this year we want it, so we need to take risks to improve and go beyond our limits, like we did today,” said St-Gelais.

“Taking risks to improve, that means pushing to develop strategies to overtake and go on to win races,” said Blackburn. “If we're content with staying second, we will stop improving and others will end up catching up to us.”

Five other Canadiens took part in B finals, Sunday: Charles Hamelin in the men's 500m, Courtney Shmyr in the women's 500m, Valérie Maltais in the women's 1,000m as well as Guillaume Bastille and Patrick Duffy in the men's 1,000m.

Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Quebec (men's 1,000m), Joanie Gervais of Saguenay, Quebec (women's 500m), and Kasandra Bradette saw their day, in individual events, end in the quarter-finals.

Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Quebec, finished sixth in the second 500m event of the weekend, while Shmyr of Langley, B.C., took 7th place in the women's 500m, a race which was won par Italy's Arianna Fontana in 43.357.

Maltais finished 7th in the women's 1,000m, with the gold medal going to South Korea's Shim Suk Hee (1:30.641), while Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, and Duffy of Oakville, Ontario, respectively took 5th and 6th place in the men's 1,000m, in an event won by South Korea's Sin Da Woon (1:24.610).

The men's 5,000m relay was won by South Korea in 6:36.179. Canada did not make it to the final.

A total of 165 skaters from 21 nations competed at the Montreal World Cup.

The next races will take place in Shanghai, China, December 14 to 16.

CANADIAN RESULTS SUNDAY:
500m M
Yoan Gauthier: 2nd in his heat in quarter-final, qualified for semifinal; spot awarded in A final by officials after a fall was provoked by a contact in semifinal; 4th in A final.

Charles Hamelin: 1st in his heat in quarter-final, qualified for semifinal; 3rd in his heat in semifinal, on to B final; 6th in overall standings.

500m W
Courtney Shmyr: 2nd in her heat in quarter-final, qualified for semifinal; 4th in her heat in semifinal, on to B final; 7th in overall standings.

Kasandra Bradette: 1st in her heat in 1st round of rep heats, qualified for rep semifinal; 1st in her heat in rep semifinal, qualified for quarter-final; disqualified in quarter-final.

Joanie Gervais: eliminated in quarter-final (fall)

1,000m M
Guillaume Bastille: 1st in his heat in quarter-final, qualified for semifinal; 3rd in his heat in semifinal, on to B final; 5th in overall standings.

Patrick Duffy: 1st in his heat in quarter-final, qualified for semifinal; 3rd in his heat in semifinal, on to B final; 6th in overall standings.

Samuel Girard: 3rd in his heat in quarter-final, eliminated.

1,000m W
Valérie Maltais  2nd in her heat in quarter-finals, qualified for semifinal; 4th in her heat in semifinal, on to B final; 7th in overall standings.

Relay 3,000m W
4th in the A final

Full results at: http://shorttrack.sportresult.com/.

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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