Cournoyer wins gold while St-Gelais & Maltais add on to their podium collection on the last day of the World Cup season in Dordrecht, Netherlands

DORDRECHT, Netherlands, February 14, 2016 – Charle Cournoyer won gold and Valérie Maltais collected silver in the 1000m, while Marianne St-Gelais earned a podium result for the 11th time in 12 opportunities this season, this time in the 500m distance, Sunday, on the last day of the last World Cup stage of the season, held in Dordrecht, Netherlands.

Sunday's haul of three medals brings Canada's total to 44 over the 2015-2016 season, the country's highest since it tallied 47 in 2002-2003.

Marianne St-Gelais' bronze in Sunday's 500m means that she has contributed to Canada's total by coming up with 11 individual medals out of a possibility of 12, in addition to having played a role in three more medals in the women's relay, for a total of 15. This has been her best season ever individually, as she improved on the eight medals she won last season.

On Sunday, St-Gelais, of Saint-Félicien, QC, skated in a high-calibre final in the 500m alongside Great Britain's Elise Christie, South Korea's Minjeong Choi and Italy's Arianna Fontana, which could be a prelude of things to come at the World Championships, slated for March 13-15 in Seoul, South Korea. Christie won gold, Sunday, followed by Choi and St-Gelais.

“This third-place result is worth a gold medal and it bodes very well for the World Championships,” said St-Gelais who, the day before, won her first-ever gold medal in the 1500m distance.

After kicking off the race from the fourth spot on the starting line, St-Gelais made her way up to second place and wound up with the bronze.

“I was glad about starting fourth because there were some things I wanted to set up,” explained St-Gelais, who will turn 26 on February 17. “In this high-level final, I was looking to do certain things and I was going along the lines of the plan we had set out at the start of the season, which was to try different approaches and try to push my limits. I had nothing to lose. I wanted to have fun and try different things to prepare for the World Championships.”

“At a certain point, I put my third-place spot at risk to go into second place. I was able to overtake in the right way, but I lacked a bit of agility in that sort of situation. I ended up a bit too much on the tip of my blades, which opened the door for the Korean, who went from fourth to second. I then continued battling with Arianna (Fontana) to protect my third spot. It was a very fast race and it became impossible to overtake the skaters ahead of me.”

Following her third-place finish, St-Gelais was crowned overall World Cup champion in the 500m distance.

“I'm happy because I think I deserve to be there on top. I showed a lot of consistency all season long,” she said.

Charle Cournoyer wins fifth medal this season
Charle Cournoyer, for his part, won the gold medal in the second 1000m event held this weekend.

He therefore finished second in overall World Cup standings in this distance, behind Russian skater Semen Elistratov, who picked up the bronze medal on Sunday. South Korea's Jiwon Park collected silver.

“My plan was to control the race and stay among the top two skaters,” explained Charle Cournoyer, who won four of his five medals this season in the 1000m distance, including gold at the Toronto World Cup.

“I was consistent all season long. I think the 1000m was a distance I was able to master and I had a great season in that discipline,” added Cournoyer regarding his second-place finish in overall 1000m standings, which came after a difficult 2014-2015 season where he needed time to recover from an operation to both shoulders and a foot fracture.

Charles Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, who was not at this weekend's last World Cup stage in order to focus on preparing for the World Championships, as was Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, ended the season in third place overall in the 1000m distance.

Hamelin and Girard were also preceded by Russian skater Dmitry Migunov in overall 500m standings following the latter's victory in Sunday's final. Hamelin and Girard therefore ended the season in second and third place, while François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, was fifth.

Valérie Maltais in silver by the tip of a blade
Valérie Maltais of La Baie, QC, stepped on the podium for the fourth time this season by earning silver in the second 1000m of the stage.

Maltais, who will be one of three Canadian women representing Canada in individual races at the upcoming World Championships, was heading towards a gold medal when South Korea's Do Hee Noh went by her at the finish line and earned the victory by four hundredths of a second. China's Jiaying Tao collected bronze.

“Yes, I lost my lead at the finish line because of a technical error, but I wasn't mad because it was still a good race,” said Valérie Maltais. “It's fun to be part of races like that, when it's that tight. I'll have my chance for revenge.”

Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal, Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie borough, was fourth in the A final. That is a placing she knows all too well, having finished at the foot of the podium in both 1500m events held last week in Dresden, Germany.

“I'm pretty disappointed because I've had opportunities to be on the podium and I wasn't able to take advantage of them. I made a few mistakes in the final,” admitted Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, 21, who was skating in her sixth career World Cup stage.

Overall, Marianne St-Gelais ended the season fifth in 1500m World Cup standings, even though she did not skate in that distance this weekend.

Canada crowned World Cup season champion in men's relay
In the men's relay, Canada was penalized after finishing third in the final in Dordrecht. Russia, the gold medal winners, South Korea and Canada traded places out in front of the pack throughout a very tight final, but Canada, as did South Korea, ended up being disqualified.

“Aside from being disqualified, I think we had a good relay race and we battled well against the other teams. It was a fun race,” said Charle Cournoyer.

Nonetheless, the Canadian skaters finished on top of the World Cup overall standings.

The Canadian women's relay, which was eliminated in Saturday's semifinal after being penalized, finished second in overall standings.

The Canadian team will now travel back home to prepare for the World Championships.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

1000m (2) H
Charle Cournoyer: gold medal (final ranking: 1)
Sasha Fathoullin: fourth in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 13)
Cédrik Blais: felt in the quarterfinals to finish fifth and eliminated (final ranking: 20)

1000m (2) W
Valérie Maltais: silver medal (final ranking: 2)
Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: (fourth in the A Final (final ranking: 4)
Audrey Phaneuf: first in the B Final (final ranking: 6)

500m W
Marianne St-Gelais: bronze medal (final ranking: 3)
Jamie MacDonald: third in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 9)
Kasandra Bradette: third in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 10)

Relay M
Canada: penalty in the A Final (final ranking: 3)
(Charle Cournoyer, Sasha Fathoullin, François Hamelin, Patrick Duffy - Cédrik Blais)

500m M
François Hamelin: penalty in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 9)
Patrick Duffy: fourth in the repechage quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 27)

Relay W
Canada: penalty in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 8)
(Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette, Audrey Phaneuf, Marianne St-Gelais - Jamie MacDonald, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier)

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