Charles Hamelin & Marianne St-Gelais both win second gold medal in two days at World Cup held in Dresden, Germany

Dresden, Germany, February 7, 2016 – Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais came up with a repeat performance of their Saturday races by both winning a gold medal, this time in the 500m distance, Sunday, on the last day of the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating event held in Dresden, Germany. Also, Sasha Fathoullin collected silver in the 1500m as did the men's relay team.

Hamelin and St-Gelais having won gold and Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC collecting bronze in Saturday's 1000m, Canada leaves Dresden with seven medals for the weekend, giving it an overall total of 39 medals for the season. The Canadian team will travel to Dordrecht, Netherlands, to take part in next weekend's last World Cup stage of the season.

In the men's 500m, Charles Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, withstood another late-race surge by Russian skater Semen Elistratov in the last lap to go on to win his second medal of the weekend. On Saturday, Hamelin also blocked the Russian's attempt to overtake towards the end of the 1000m final.

“I was able to come up with times that were close to my personal best. In the semifinal, I skated a 40.09, which I hadn't done since Calgary in 2012 I think,” said Charles Hamelin. “I was able to get a good feel for the Russians' strategy behind me and to counter their attacks on the way to gold.”

In a four-skater final that involved two Russians, the other Canadian in action, Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, finished in fourth place. Earlier in the day, he had to go through 500m repechage races, as did Charle Cournoyer, who was eliminated in the quarterfinal round.

“It was a busy day,” said Samuel Girard. “I came to the rink this morning with a positive attitude. I deserve to be skating in the 500m, I'm second in the world after all, and I knew I had it in me to go to the A final. I'm happy with how my day went.”

After five World Cups this season, Hamelin and Girard are on top of 500m overall standings. However, they will not be taking part in the last World Cup stage of the season and will instead come back to Montreal this week to focus on preparing for the World Championships, set to take place March 11-13 in Seoul, South Korea.

“To go back home with two gold medals and a silver in the relay, it gives me a great confidence boost looking ahead to the World Championships, for sure,” said Charles Hamelin. “That was the goal, to come up with impeccable performances here in order to go to Seoul in the right frame of mind.”

Marianne St-Gelais wins ninth individual medal
The women's 500m final gave way to a hard-fought battle between Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, and Great Britain's Elise Christie, the European championship title holder and silver medalist in this distance at last year's World Championships. The Canadian skater eventually came out on top.

For St-Gelais, this is her ninth medal out of 10 individual events on the World Cup circuit so far this season.

“I had two race plans : the first one where I was starting from the second position on the starting line and would attempt to overtake going into the first turn, while the second option was to do it right at the start,” explained Marianne St-Gelais, who ended up adopting the second scenario.”
 
“We had a good battle and our blades came into contact, which allowed me to move ahead. It was a good race because I had two game plans and I was able to go through with one of them, but the contact with the blades resulted in me having less feeling on my left side, which could have cost me the win at the end. I didn't panic and I ajusted my racing line as well as the way I was applying pressure on my blades.”

Sasha Fathoullin earns second medal at his third World Cup
Sasha Fathoullin, a 20-year-old athlete from Calgary, AB, won his second medal in three career World Cups so far by skating to a silver medal finish in the 1500m.

Fathoullin took advantage of an opportunity that opened up when Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt, the leader in overall standings, fell with one lap to go. The Canadian skater made his way to the second spot in the pack.

“When Sjinkie (Knegt) fell, I was gaining speed on the outside and I think I could have made something happen even if nobody had slipped,” said Sasha Fathoullin who, earlier this season, won silver in the 500m at the World Cup held in Toronto. “But it is true that the fact that he slipped also opened the door for me. Obviously, I'm satisfied. My goals were to finish in the top-12 in each of my two races.”

Later on, Fathoullin and Charles Hamelin won their second medal of the day, alongside Samuel Girard and Charle Cournoyer, by coming up with the silver medal in the men's relay. François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, also skated on the relay team in earlier rounds.

With Canada ahead of the pack with one lap to go, Charle Cournoyer was overtaken by Russia's Semen Elistratov and had to settle for second place.

“We skated a textbook relay today,” pointed out Charles Hamelin. “It hasn't been long since Charle Cournoyer has been closing out the relay races. He does his best, and he needs to adapt to certain things, including the stress level that it comes with. It wasn't easy for him to manage his energy level and to see when (Semen) Elistratov would be coming at him. We'll take the silver medal. It's not like we made a ton of mistakes.”

In the women's 1500m, Valérie Maltais of La Baie, QC, and Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal (Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie borough) had to face three South Korean skaters, among other opponents.

Maltais seemed to have found a way to make it through the South Korean wall by finishing third, but by swinging her leg ahead at the finish line to increase her chances of a podium result, it resulted in her being penalized.

“At the end, the South Korean skater was about to go by me and I wanted to finish it out with my right foot,” explained Maltais. “I lost my balance a bit as she was closing the gap. I ended up going over the finish line with my left foot first, up in the air. The first thing I thought was: 'damn!'

“It's happened several times this season that there were three South Koreans in front and I think I'm learning more and more how to predict what they will do. Their wall is tough to go through, but now I can see that it's possible.”

Harris-Gauthier, for her part, finished in fourth place, as she did the day before in the same distance – and which was her best career result in five World Cup stages so far.

“After finishing fourth twice, I can say that my weekend went well,” said Namasthée Harris-Gauthier. “Of course it's disappointing to end up twice at the foot of the podium, but the fact remains that I saw a progression from yesterday to today. I felt better and better from one round to the next and I hope to continue on the same path.”

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m W
Marianne St-Gelais: gold medal (final ranking: 1)
Audrey Phaneuf: third in the B Final (final ranking: 7)
Kasandra Bradette: third in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 11)

500m M
Charles Hamelin: gold medal (final ranking: 1)
Samuel Girard: fourth in the A Final (final ranking: 4)
Charle Cournoyer: fourth in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 14)

1500m (2) M
Sasha Fathoullin: silver medal (final ranking: 2)
François Hamelin: first in the B Final (final ranking: 8)
William Preudhomme: did not take part in the heats and eliminated

1500m (2) W
Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: fourth in the A Final (final ranking: 4)
Valérie Maltais: penalty in the A Final (final ranking: 7)
Jamie MacDonald: seventh in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 18)

Relay M
Canada: silver medal (overall ranking: 2)
(Samuel Girard, Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Sasha Fathoullin – François Hamelin)

Relay W
Canada: penalty in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 7)
(Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Jamie MacDonald, Kasandra Bradette - Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, Audrey Phaneuf)

More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.
    
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