Canadian Short Track Speed Skating team introduced to the 2018 Olympic Games ice at the ISU World Cup stage held in Gangneung, South Korea

Gangneung, South Korea, December 14, 2016 – The Canadian Short Track Speed Skating team will have its first taste of the 2018 Olympic Games this weekend, at the fourth ISU World Cup stage of the season, as they will compete on the official Olympic ice in Gangneung, South Korea. Canada will aim to win eight individual medals.
 
Winner of five individual medals in six events at the first three World Cups of the season, Marianne St-Gelais from Saint-Félicien, QC, is looking to repeat her performances from last weekend in Shanghai, China, by winning two other medals – in the 1500m event, distance in which she is the defending world champion, as well as in the 500m.
 
St-Gelais and her teammates have already started to get familiar with the “Gangneung Ice Arena” by taking part in training sessions in the new infrastructure during the week.
 
“Training went well and the ice is really nice, it's quite similar to the one in Montreal. I found my marks pretty quickly”, said Marianne St-Gelais, three-time Olympic medalist in Vancouver and in Sochi.
 
“It’s always exciting to be where the Olympic Games will be held,” added St-Gelais. “I've gone through this twice and it’s always a special moment. There's excitement. It puts us in a great zone and I really like how I was yesterday. I can’t wait for it to start! The road to the Olympic Games will really start with this competition this weekend.”
 
“It’s the first event to be held in this arena. For us, it’s something that's fun and inspiring,” said Charles Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, a veteran on the Canadian team who has won four Olympic medals over the 2006, 2010 and 2014 Games and who will take part this weekend in the 1500m race and second 1000m event that is scheduled in Gangneung. “Everyone is excited about skating at the rink. We all took pictures and videos. The ice is relatively nice and it’s encouraging.”
 
This stage has a bit of a different flavour for Kim Boutin from Sherbrooke, QC, and Samuel Girard from Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, who both dream to take part in their first Olympic Games.
 
“I’m very happy to be here”, said Kim Boutin, who will turn 22 on Friday and who will aim to qualify for the final rounds in the 1500m and 1000m (2) events. “The facilities are quite beautiful, and big. I also noticed that here, everything is blue, like in Sochi, and I’m very excited! The ice is similar to what we have back in Canada. It doesn't feel too strange. I can’t wait for this first test-event.”
 
“The size of the rink will make for a good atmosphere during the competition and the ice seems to be favourable to some fast racing”, commented Samuel Girard, 20, who will take part in the 1500m and 500m events.
 
Aiming for eight individual medals
Similarly to St-Gelais, Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard and Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC, will be looking to win a medal in each of their two events. Cournoyer, who won a bronze medal in the 500m at the 2014 Olympic Games, will skate in the 1500m and 1000m (2).
 
The three skaters on the Canadian men's team will be looking to make up for their tough weekend in Shanghai, where they were unable to reach their goal, which was also to each step onto the podium in both their individual events.
 
In the 1000m (1), Jamie Macdonald of Fort St. James, B.C., will be looking to take part in the A final, while Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien, QC, and Marie-Ève Drolet of Saguenay, Chicoutimi borough, QC, will be aiming to finish among the top eight. On the men's side, François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, and Patrick Duffy of Oakville, ON, will be vying for a spot in the B final. Duffy will therefore be looking for a repeat of the performances he came up with in Shanghai where, skating in his first World Cup stage this season, he was the top Canadian in the 1000m by finishing second in the B final.
 
Pascal Dion of Montreal, QC, will also be in action in the 1000m (1), as well as in the 500m. The 22-year-old skater wishes to skate in one A final and one B final.
 
In the second 1000m event, aside from Boutin, Cournoyer and Charles Hamelin, Valérie Maltais of Saguenay, La Baie borough, QC, wants to finish among the top five, as she ended up at the foot of the podium in that distance last weekend. Marie-Ève Drolet will be vying for a top eight result while Duffy will again be looking to qualify for the B final.
 
In the 1500m, representing Canada will be Valérie Maltais, who will be looking for another top five result, as well as St-Gelais and Boutin on the women's team, while Charles Hamelin, Girard and Cournoyer will be skating on the men's side.
 
Finally, in the 500m, aside from St-Gelais, Kasandra Bradette will attempt to qualify for the A final and Jamie Macdonald will vye for a top eight result. On the men's side, Girard, Dion and François Hamelin will be in action, that latter going for a spot in the B final.

Qualifying for all races slated over the weekend at the Gangneung World Cup will take place on Friday, December 16, while the repechage heats and the finals in the first 1000m of the stage and the 1500m as well as the relay semifinals will follow on Saturday, December 17. Repechage heats and the finals for the second 1000m and for the 500m as well as the relay finals will be held on Sunday, December 18.
 
The list of skaters taking part in the relay races will be decided on each day of the competition.

Members of the Canadian national team for ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating stage #4 in Gangneung, South Korea

WOMEN
-BOUTIN, Kim (Sherbrooke, QC) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-BRADETTE, Kasandra (Saint-Félicien, QC) – 1000m (1), 500m
-DROLET, Marie-Ève (Saguenay, Chicoutimi borough, QC) – 1000m (1), 1000m (2)
-MACDONALD, Jamie (Fort St. James, B.C.) – 1000m (1), 500m
-MALTAIS, Valérie (Saguenay, La Baie borough, QC) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-ST-GELAIS, Marianne (Saint-Félicien, QC) – 1500m, 500m

MEN
-COURNOYER, Charle (Boucherville, QC) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-DION, Pascal (Montréal, Rivière-des-Prairies - Pointe-aux-Trembles borough, QC) – 1000m (1), 500m
-DUFFY, Patrick (Oakville, ON) – 1000m (1), 1000m (2)
-GIRARD, Samuel (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC) – 1500m, 500m
-HAMELIN, Charles (Sainte-Julie, QC) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-HAMELIN, François (Sainte-Julie, QC) – 1000m (1), 500m
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 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.

SSC is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values including our premium sponsors Intact Insurance and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
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