First skaters named to Team Canada for Short Track World Cups in Montreal & Toronto; tickets now available

Speed Skating Canada announced today the first athletes who have been named on the Canadian Team for the first two Short Track Speed Skating World Cups which will kick off the 2015-2016 season and take place in Montreal, October 30-November 1, and in Toronto, November 6-8.

The announcement was made on the same day that ticket sales to the public for both events were launched. Thrill seekers fans who love speed and extreme sports can now get their tickets through the following links:

MONTRÉAL: http://www.coupedumondemtl.ca/eng/tickets/

TORONTO: http://www.speedskating.ca/toronto2015

Charles Hamelin, Marianne St-Gelais and Valérie Maltais to take part
Fans will be able to see the world's best short track speed skaters in action during these first two stops of the 2015-2016 season on the international circuit.

Among them will be Olympic medalists Charles Hamelin, Marianne St-Gelais and Valérie Maltais, as well as their young teamates Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, QC, and Samuel Girard, of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC. They are the first athletes to be named on the Canadian team that will represent the country at the Short Track World Cups in Montreal and Toronto. At the end of the selection process, to be completed over the next few weeks, the Canadian team will be comprised of six men and six women.

The five athletes listed above automatically qualified for a spot on the Canadian team by finishing among the three highest ranked skaters in overall standings at the Fall World Cup Selections, held last weekend in Montreal, based on total points earned in their best two distances.

Regarding the third spot on the men’s side, Olivier Jean, who finished third in the team selection, decided to give up his spot at the first four World Cups of the season in order to seriously train in long track speed skating. This spot will now become a discretionary choice.

St-Gelais dominant to start off season
At the Fall World Cup Selections, Marianne St-Gelais showed she was in top form by coming up with a clean sweep of all six individual women's events scheduled at the competition.

“Following a great summer of training which translated to the performances I had over the weekend, I can’t wait to get back to international competition and, especially, to competing in front of our fans in Montreal and Toronto,” said the three-time silver Olympic medalist. “We are all looking forward to showing how exciting our sport is, and we hope that people will come out to support us to the max and fill up the stands in both rinks.”

Valérie Maltais from La Baie, QC, also qualified. The silver medalist in the women’s relay event at the 2014 Olympic Games notably finished second in both 1500m races over the weekend.

“I’m happy to be part of this team for the Montreal and Toronto World Cups,” said Valérie Maltais. “I definitely want to be at my best and put on a good show for our fans in both cities, at home in Canada. Now, the time has come to finetune my skating in training in order to be ready for the start of the new season.”

The top Canadian at the 2015 World Championships, Kim Boutin, a 20-year-old from Sherbrooke, QC, also secured a spot following three second-place and three third-place finishes over the weekend.

Charles Hamelin will lead the men’s team
On the men’s side, three-time gold Olympic medalist Charles Hamelin will aim to impress his Canadian fans in Montreal and in Toronto. He qualified for a spot on the Canadian team after coming up with three first place and two second place finishes at the Fall World Cup Selections.

“I’m already looking to the 2018 Olympic Games and that is why, during last weekend's trials, I tried new strategies in order to keep improving,” said Charles Hamelin. “The next level of preparation toward Pyeongchang will now go through international competition. I can’t wait to apply the new things I've incorporated in my skating, starting with the World Cups in Montreal and in Toronto, and I hope that will translate into podium performances in front of our Canadian fans.”

Young 19-year-old skater Samuel Girard, from Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, will also look to impress following his performances at the trials last weekend. After a first international senior season where he took part in five of six World Cups in addition to skating at the World Senior and Junior Championships, Girard showed he is still improving by winning both 1000m events last weekend. He also finished second and third in the 1500m races, as well as fourth and fifth in the 500m distance.

Olivier Jean tries long track in spite of earning 3rd spot
Despite finishing in third position following the Fall World Cup Selections, Olivier Jean decided to skip the first four World Cups of the season in order to seriously train in long track speed skating.

The 31-year-old athlete from Lachenaie, QC, who took part in the 2014 Olympic Games and won a gold medal in the relay event at the 2010 Games, was travelling Wednesday to Calgary, where he will take part in an intensive training program and prepare for the Long Track Fall World Cup Selections, set for October 22-25 at Calgary's Olympic Oval.

Jean had initially decided to do this over the summer, but a bike accident forced him to delay his plans.

“Even if I’m very satisfied with my weekend's performances, and even a little bit surprised considering I wasn't in top shape after going through two months of rehabilitation, I decided to follow the plan that my coaches and I agreed to well before the trials,” explained Olivier Jean.

“Also, I've always wanted to have a real try at long track and, at 31 years old, after finishing my degree and because we are still two years away from the 2018 Olympic Games, I believe this is the right time to go through a thorough evaluation, especially for the mass start event, which will be included for the first time in the Olympic program at the next Games.

“That being said, I still intend to stay in short track, and the fact that I took part in the Fall World Cup Selections, last weekend, shows to what extent I'm interested in representing Canada again at the Short Track World Championships in March – especially with the points I earned at the trials last weekend, which will count for the team selection.”

This last spot on the men’s side, as well as the three discretionary spots on the men's team and the three discretionary choices on the women's team, will be announced in a few weeks.

More details are available on Speed Skating Canada’s website at 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 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC