Canadian Short Track Skaters Vying for Olympic Quotas at Montreal World Cup

Canada’s best short track speed skaters are getting ready for one of the most important competition of the season, the ISU Short Track World Cup Montreal 2009, to be held at the Maurice-Richard Arena from November 5-8. The skaters will compete with athletes from around the world, hoping to secure the maximum quotas in each distance for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is sending its Olympic team to the event, and the objective is simple: take advantage of this last competition on home soil prior to the Olympics to build momentum and, most importantly, ensure that all three skaters entered in each distance make their way in the top-32. Athletes finishing in the top-32 (top-36 for the 1500m) rankings combined from the Montreal and Marquette World Cups (to be held the following weekend, November 12-15) will earn a spot for their country to skate at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, come February 2010.

On the men side, Canada’s François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC), Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) have all won numerous World Cup medals over the last few years in all distances. The team will be completed with François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) and Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), who have both stepped on the podium since making their World Cup debut in 2007.

Canada’s women should impress in the 500m, with Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) who both stepped on the podium at the first World Cup event this season. Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) is a powerhouse over all distances, while Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) and Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) will be strong contenders in the 1000m and 1500m races.

In Beijing and Seoul, at the first two World Cup stops of the season, Team Canada won a total of 9 medals, 1 gold, 3 silver and 5 bronze, but they were using those World Cups as part of their Olympic preparation. While the Montreal and Marquette stops are also part of the 2010 plan, the main focus will be qualifying a maximum of athletes for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. This will be the last chance for our Canadian Olympians to compete against the world’s best prior to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.