Canadian men’s & women’s relay teams qualify for the 2018 Olympic Games

Boutin and St-Gelais finish 1-2 in the 1000m and the Canadian men’s teams wins bronze in Shanghai

Shanghai, China, November 12, 2017 – Canada's men and women relay teams unofficially but mathematically qualified for the 2018 Olympic Games while Kim Boutin and Marianne St-Gelais finished 1-2 in the women's 1000m and the men’s relay team won bronze, Sunday, on the last day of the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating stage in Shanghai, China.

The Canadian men's relay was comprised on Sunday of Charles Hamelin from Sainte-Julie, QC, Samuel Girard from Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, Charle Cournoyer from Boucherville, QC, and Pascal Dion from Montreal, QC. François Hamelin from Sainte-Julie, QC, skated in earlier rounds this weekend.

For its part, the women's relay, comprised of Kim Boutin from Sherbrooke, QC, Marianne St-Gelais from Saint-Félicien, QC, Kasandra Bradette from Saint-Félicien, QC, and Jamie Macdonald from Fort St. James, B.C. on Sunday, and which included Valérie Maltais from Saguenay, QC in earlier rounds, was penalized in the A final and took the fourth spot.

However, both relays unofficially and mathematically qualified for the 2018 Olympic Games based on the points in the standings they have collected over the first three World Cup stages held so far this season. The men won gold medals in each of the first two stages, while the women collected silver and bronze, in addition to picking up points for reaching Sunday's A final in Shanghai.

This has a direct effect on the Canadian Olympic short track speed skating team that will travel to PyeongChang, as this means that the maximum of five men and five women from the provisional Olympic team will go to the Games.

“After having a tough time last season in the relay, we wanted to come back strong this season, and qualifying for the Olympics was our goal,” said Samuel Girard, who will be taking part in the Games for the first time. “It's great to know that we will go to South Korea together, all five of us!”

“We've all worked well together so far this season and we will be a very strong team at the Games,” said Kim Boutin, who will also be taking part in her first Olympic Games. “Now that we know that we will all be going together, we know it means that over the next few weeks, we will be able to work on our approach and take it to the level where we want to take it.”

“We've been dominant and strong since the season started, so we deserve it,” said St-Gelais. “But that doesn't mean we can rest now, it's only the beginning, and the girls know it.”

On Sunday in the men's relay, Canadian and Chinese skaters fell after 17 laps out of a total of 45, resulting in Canada moving back to fourth place over 28 laps, but the Canadian team came back to overtake China at the finish line to earn bronze, ahead of the United States, who won gold, and South Korea, who collected silver. China was subsequently penalized by the officials.

“The South Koreans took off at a fast pace and that surprised us a little bit, but we quickly adjusted,” said Girard. “China then mishandled their handoff a little bit, which gave us an opportunity to overtake, but there was contact when they fell. By the time we were able to get back on skates, we were one lap behind. But the guys worked well together to get up to the necessary speed to finish ahead of China at the line. We got 'em!”

With their win, the United States lowered the men’s relay world record with a time of 6:29.052. The previous mark of 6:30.958 was owned by Canada since October 2012.

Penalty in the women’s relay
In the women's relay, South Korea, China and Italy ended up on the podium in that order, ahead of Canada. Disqualification came at the end of the race, when Marianne St-Gelais had the baton.

“We're still happy with our race because we were in first place, then in fourth, in third, in second… That was a good thing because in training, in fact, that's we try to do, to learn to manage different situations, which allows us to be comfortable no matter how things turn out,” said Boutin.

“The other girls did great today but for my part, I was never in control, which put me in a vulnerable position, especially at the end of the race, when I tried to go for the third spot. That's why the team was penalized,” explained St-Gelais.

“Disqualifications happen. But you can't dwell on it, especially in this case, because what we did wrong wasn't that bad and it happened at the very end,” pointed out Boutin.

Boutin and St-Gelais on the podium again
In individual distance, Kim Boutin earned her second gold medal of the weekend when she won the women's 1000m on Sunday, ahead of Marianne St-Gelais and Italy's Arianna Fontana. The Sherbrooke-born skater also won Saturday's 500m.

This was the second time this World Cup season that Boutin and St-Gelais finished 1-2 for Canada. St-Gelais won gold and Boutin came up with silver in the 500m held at the second stage in Dordrecth, in the Netherlands.

“When you are two skaters from the same country in a final like was the case today, you don't want to be in your teammate's way, but you also don't want to slow down just for her,” pointed out St-Gelais. “It went well, it was a good race. I had an opportunity to overtake (Boutin) but because she was going at a fast pace and that no one behind was in a position to overtake, I didn't try to force it. We can both be proud of what we've accomplished!”

It was Boutin's fifth individual medal this World up season, her second in the 1000m distance. She finished second in that event at the first stage of the season, in Budapest, Hungary.

“In the quarterfinals, I was smooth and focused, and again in the semifinals,” said Boutin. “Then, in the final, my goal was to go out in front and to stay ahead of the pack, so I'm happy I was able to do it and go get the gold medal.”

For her part, Marianne St-Gelais picked up her second podium finish of the weekend, after earning bronze in Saturday's 1500m. She now has three medals this season, which includes the gold she won in the 500m in Dordrecht.

“We were six skaters in today's final, that's a lot, so it was important to stay out in front,” said St-Gelais. “My execution level was good and I followed the race plan, so mission accomplished!”

The Canadian team will now travel to Seoul, South Korea, for the next World Cup stage, set to kick off on Thursday. This will be the fourth and last stage of the current season, as the following weeks will be dedicated to preparing for the Winter Olympic Games set to take place in February 2018.

More details are available on Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

1000m W
Kim Boutin: gold medal (final ranking: 1)
Marianne St-Gelais: silver medal (final ranking: 2)
Valérie Maltais: 5th in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 9)

1000m M
Charles Hamelin: penalty in the B Final (final ranking: 8)
Charle Cournoyer: 3rd in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 11)
Samuel Girard: 5th in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 17)

Relay W
Canada: penalty in the A Final (final ranking: 4)
(Kim Boutin, Kasandra Bradette, Marianne St-Gelais, Jamie Macdonald, Valérie Maltais)

Relay M
Canada: bronze medal (final ranking: 3)
(Samuel Girard, Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Pascal Dion, François Hamelin)

About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, SSC is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial associations. Speed Skating Canada is committed to Challenge and Inspire Canada to Thrive through the power of Speed Skating. 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. www.speedskating.ca

Speed Skating Canada would like to thank its sponsors:

Premium partner: Intact Insurance
Funding partners: Government of Canada (Sport Canada), Own The Podium, Canadian Olympic Committee
Official On-Ice High Performance Apparel: Li-Ning
Long Track Team Sponsor: KIA
Official Suppliers: Auclair, USANA
Official Technical Equipment Supplier: Nagano Skate
Sport Development Partners: Winsport Canada, Calgary’s Olympic Oval, University of Calgary, Institut national du sport du Québec, Government of Quebec, Canadian Sport Institute-Calgary, City of Montreal, Quebec City, Conseil du sport de haut niveau de Québec

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Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
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