Canadian Open Short Track Championships Set to Start Without Tremblay & Maltais

The Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal is getting ready to host the best Canadian short track speed skaters this weekend, as they will compete in the Canadian Open Championships. Two members of Canada’s Olympic Team will however have to watch their teammates from the stands. Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) sprained her ankle in the stairs on December 28 and is just returning on the ice to train. Meanwhile, François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC) also sprained his ankle yesterday when hitting a pot hole walking down the street.

At stake are spots for the World Championships and the two remaining World Cup stops of the season. Athletes are also getting ranking points that will help them qualify for next year’s National and Development Teams, and those studying at University can qualify for the FISU Games taking place later this month.

The top four skaters in the overall ranking combining results in the 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 3000m will be selected to represent Canada at the World Short Track Championships. Speed Skating Canada’s (SSC) High Performance Short Track Committee will then select one additional skater to complete the team. Within those five skaters, the best two based on this weekend’s results will race individual distances, as well as a third skater selected at the discretion of the committee.

For World Cups, it will be a similar selection process, with the top five being chosen based on this weekend’s results, and one discretionary position.

Neither Tremblay nor Maltais will be able to race this weekend, but they will have the option to request a bye for one or more of these events. A bye request, if granted by SSC’s High Performance Short Track Committee, would re-rank a skater, potentially allowing them to get a coveted position on the team.

François-Louis Tremblay will be away from the ice for the next 3 weeks, and will then be reevaluated by the medical team, so it’s unsure if he will be able to return to competition this season or not.

“I’m happy it’s not broken,” explained Tremblay after hearing the diagnostic on his ankle. “This makes it much simpler. It’s good news. We will reevaluate in the next three weeks, the progress can vary quite a bit, and that’s when we’ll know if I can finish the season or not. I’m actually really happy to hear there is still a chance that I will be able to get back to training and maybe competition before end of the week. For sure I’m disappointed not to be able to race this weekend, things were going well for me on the ice so I was looking forward to taking advantage of my training in a racing environment.”

Races will begin Friday at 2pm at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal, with the first distance in the program being the 1500m. Saturday, athletes will race the 500m while Sunday will be for the 1000m, 3000m and relay. Admission is free for everyone, and races will be available on the web at http://jestertv.net/?page_id=89.