Canadian short track speed skating team adds four medals to close out 2014-15 World Cup season with 28 podium finishes

Charles Hamelin, Patrick Duffy, Kim Boutin and the women's relay allowed the Canadian short track speed skating team to claim four medals, Sunday at the ISU World Cup held in Erzurum, Turkey, which led to a tally of seven medals over the weekend, its highest total in two months.

The Canadian team earned four bronze medals, Sunday, as Charles Hamelin finished third in the men's 500m, as did Duffy in the men's 1000m and Boutin in the women's 1000m. The women's relay, comprised of Boutin, Marianne St-Gelais, Kasandra Bradette and Genève Bélanger, also reached the podium.

These four medals come on the heels of the three collected Saturday, when St-Gelais and Boutin respectively won silver and bronze in the women's 1500m, while Bradette earned silver in the first of two 1000m races skated over the weekend.

The Canadian team therefore had its most successful World Cup weekend since the Shanghai stage in mid-December, when it came up with eight podium finishes. The seven-medal performance in Turkey comes at the sixth and final stage of the 2014-15 World Cup season, just as the Canadian skaters will start preparing for the World Championships set to take place March 13-15 in Moscow.

This World Cup season, the Canadian team tallied 28 medals, i.e. three gold, nine silver and 16 bronze, allowing it to surpass its total of 27 over the 2012-13 season.

St-Gelais won the most medals, with 12, including eight individual medals. She won at least a medal in each of the six stages this winter. In overall 2014-15 standings, she finished second in the 1000m event and third in the 500m.

On the men's side, Charles Hamelin won on Sunday his eighth medal of the season, his sixth in an individual event. He finished third in the 1500m overall standings and fourth in the 1000m.

Sunday, the skater from Sainte-Julie, QC finished third in the men's 500m with a time of 44.179 seconds, behind Hungary's Viktor Knoch (41.124) and China's Wu Dajing (41.205). He took advantage of a penalty given to Russian skater Semen Elistratov to make his way onto the podium.

“That may have been the weirdest 500m I've ever skated in,” said Charles Hamelin. “I clearly had a false start, but when I realized they weren't going to restart the race, I had to quickly get back up and I found myself five or six meters behind right off the bat. I took advantage of a battle up front to come back, and then the Russian pushed me by putting his hands on my hip and shoulder, and I had to hang on to the boards to avoid falling.

“I take this bronze medal as a consolation prize for the weekend, ” he added, after finishing sixth in Saturday's 1000m.

First medal for Duffy, second for Boutin
Kim Boutin (Sherbrooke, QC) had a successful weekend as she won, over the three-day competition in Turkey, the first two individual medals of her career. A rookie on the World Cup circuit this season, she was third in Sunday's 1000m with a time of 1:33.934. The 20-year-old skater finished behind Italy's Arianna Fontana (1:33.415) and Japan's Yui Sakai (1:33.821).

“This will give me a boost of confidence for the World Championships,” said Boutin of her overall results during the weekend. “I would have preferred winning gold or silver (Sunday), because I know I can do better in the 1000m, but I'm still happy with what I did today, considering I tried a new strategy by staying at the back of the pack to start the race.”

Genève Bélanger (Montreal, QC), who also took part in the women's 1000m A final, Sunday, took fifth place in 1:34.415. She earned her best result in two World Cups so far, after making her debut last weekend in Dresden, Germany. She had two sixth-place finishes so far.

Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, QC) saw her road in the women's 1000m stop in the semi-finals, as she was unable to skate due to an injury. She was advanced from the quarterfinals when the South Korean skater in her heat, Noh Do Hee, was penalized.

Patrick Duffy (Oakville, ON), for his part, picked up the first individual World Cup medal of his career. His time of 1:25.511 gave him third place behind winner Sin Da Woon of South Korea (1:25.311) and Russia's Victor An (1:25.428). Fourth in Saturday's 1500m, Duffy, age 23, reached the A final in both his races of the weekend for the first time.

“In today's final, I was aiming to put together everything that I had learned over the last few races and over the World Cup season,” said Duffy. “The planned strategy went out the window right at the start, when I found myself fourth, but I stayed calm, and was able to move up to third. I tried catching up to An for second place, but he had the better legs today. It's still good to finally get that first podium!”

The Canadian women's relay finished the 3000m race in 4:14.240, ahead of Italy. China won it in 4:13.026, ahead of South Korea (4:13.406). The team bronze medal allowed Boutin to earn her third medal of the weekend.

“We tried something a little different, so that as the finisher, I would only make four exchanges instead of five,” said St-Gelais. “It worked well, so I think we'll probably be doing that again in our next races.”

This was the fourth time in six stages this season that the women's relay ended up on the podium. The Canadian team finishes the season with one gold medal and three bronze in this discipline, good for third place in overall season standings.

In the women's 500m, St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, QC) finished fourth in Sunday's A final. She finished the race in 43.395, to end up behind China's Fan Kexin (43.009), Russia's Sofia Prosvirnova (43.256) and Great Britain's Elise Christie (43.263).

“I'm still happy I got to race another 500m before the Worlds, after having had to cope with a blade malfunction last week in Dresden,” said St-Gelais.

The Canadian team therefore took advantage of four of its six medal opporunities in A finals, Sunday.
                       
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.
 
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Jeff MacKinnon          
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