Canada will once again be well-represented in final rounds following ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating qualifying in Shanghai

Shanghai, December 11, 2015 – The Canadian short track speed skating team directly qualified on Friday for 23 spots out of a possible 26 in the final rounds slated for this weekend, including Olympic medalists Marianne St-Gelais, Charles Hamelin, Valérie Maltais and Charle Cournoyer, as the fourth World Cup stage of the season is being held in Shanghai.

Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, and Charles Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, won all their races in Friday's qualification rounds – St-Gelais in the 500m and 1500m (1), and Hamelin in both 1500m events. The two veteran skaters will aim to win two individual medals each over the weekend.

St-Gelais will also be attempting to extend her streak of podium finishes to eight, after collecting medals in each of the six individual events she has taken part in this World Cup season so far. The 25-year-old skater has won a gold medal, three silver medals and two bronze medals.

“Obviously, my goal is to win a medal in each race as we head towards the World Championships, but at the same time I don't want to focus too much on the streak. I mostly want to pay attention to what I need to do to skate well out there on the ice,” said St-Gelais. “By the same token, the streak remains a good challenge to have when you skate a high level.”

“I never felt I was in trouble, even if I knew I had to stay alert to avoid falling into traps, so the day went well,” said for his part Charles Hamelin, who has won three medals in three World Cup stages so far this season – all three in gold.

On the women's side, Valérie Maltais of La Baie, QC, qualified for the final rounds in the 1000m and 1500m (2), as did Audrey Phaneuf of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, in the 500m and 1000m, Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien, QC, in the 500m and 1500m, and Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal (Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie borough), QC, in both 1500m events.

In the men's races, Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC, clinched spots in the final rounds for the 500m and 1000m, while Patrick Duffy of Oakville, ON, did so in the 1000m and 1500m (2), and Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, in the 500m and 1000m.

“Last week in Japan, I wasn't able to qualify directly for the 1000m final rounds, so I was determined to do well this week in that distance and I did,” said Samuel Girard. “In the 500m, I was fast off the start and I came up with a good time, so I feel confident and ready going into this weekend's races.”

Girard, who made the 1500m final and was eliminated in the 1000m quarterfinals last week in Nagoya, will vye for spots in the 500m and 1000m A finals, and subsequently aim for podium finishes.

In the relay, Charles Hamelin, Girard, Duffy and Cournoyer won their qualification heat while St-Gelais, Phaneuf, Boutin and Harris-Gauthier finished second in their heat, allowing Canada to qualify for both men's and women's semifinals slated for Saturday.

François Hamelin and Kim Boutin to go through repechage heats
The road to the final rounds will be longer for François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, and Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, QC, however.

François Hamelin, who won gold and bronze medals in the two 500m events held last week in Nagoya, Japan, will have to go through the repechage heats, Sunday morning, to reach the podium once again in that distance. Friday, he was third in his qualifying heat.

“There was contact between (Hungarian skater) Viktor Knoch and me while I was first with a lap and a half to go. I thought he was going to be disqualified but that didn't happen as it turns out. So I will need to go through the rep heats,” said François Hamelin, who earned a direct berth for Saturday's 1500m (1) semifinals.

Kim Boutin will also have to go through repechage races in the women's 1000m on Saturday, after finishing third in her qualification heat. She made amends later in the day by winning her qualification heat in the 1500m (2), which gave her a spot in Sunday's semifinals.

As for Pascal Dion of Montreal (Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles borough), QC, he saw his road in the 1500m (1) be suddenly cut short when he was penalized in qualification, disqualifying him from the rest of the event. But the Montrealer who is skating in his second career World Cup also bounced back later, as he qualified for Sunday's 1500m (2) semifinals.

“It was a tough start to the day. I was fourth in the 1500m when I tried to overtake (French skater) Sébastien Lepape and he protected his spot quite well, but I was disqualified,” explained Dion. “I'm disappointed because I'm here to race and get some experience and by being disqualified, I can't even go through the rep heats. But after a day off Saturday I’ll try to make it up on Sunday.”

The Canadian team is looking to win 10 individual medals this weekend in Shanghai so as to reach its goal of 16 medals total for the two ISU World Cups held in Asia. Last weekend in Nagoya, Japan, Canada collected six individual medals, in addition to bronze medals in the men's and women's relays.

Canada hopes to continue to build on its great start to the season as the national team has won 24 medals in three World Cups so far this season, the same total as South Korea, which holds first place in country rankings for total medals.

On Saturday, the repechage and final rounds in the first 1500m event and the 1000m, as well as the relay semifinals, will be held. The repechage and final rounds for the second 1500m event and the 500m, as well as the relay finals, will follow on Sunday.

TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
1000m W
-Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Audrey Phaneuf: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Kim Boutin: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the repechage Saturday morning

1500m (1) W
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Kasandra Bradette: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday

1000m M
-Patrick Duffy: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Samuel Girard: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Charle Cournoyer: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday

1500m (1) H
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-François Hamelin: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Sunday
-Pascal Dion: penalty in the heats and eliminated

500m F
- Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
- Kasandra Bradette: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Audrey Phaneuf: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday

1500m (2) W
-Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Sunday
-Kim Boutin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Sunday
-Valérie Maltais: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Sunday

500m M
-Samuel Girard: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Charle Cournoyer: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-François Hamelin: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the repechage Sunday morning

1500m (2) M
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Sunday
-Patrick Duffy: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Sunday
-Pascal Dion: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Sunday

Relay M
-Canada: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
(Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard, Patrick Duffy, Charle Cournoyer)

Relais W
-Canada: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
(Marianne St-Gelais, Audrey Phaneuf, Kim Boutin, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier)

More information is available on Speed Skating Canada's website at 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.

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Communications & Media Relations Manager
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Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
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