Golden start for Marianne St-Gelais & Charles Hamelin at Canadian Senior Short Track Championships

Montreal, January 15, 2016 – Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin kicked off the Canadian Senior Short Track Championships, Friday, by each winning a gold medal in the 1500m. That event was the first slated during a competition that will take place until Sunday at Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal and which will allow Canadian skaters to qualify for the upcoming Senior World Championships as well as for the two winter World Cup stages of the 2015-2016 season.

In the women's 1500m final, Marianne St-Gelais (2:43.539) skated to victory, finishing ahead of Namasthée Harris-Gauthier (2:43.875) of Montréal (Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie borough), QC, and Marie-Ève Drolet (2:44.005) of Laterrière, QC.
 
St-Gelais therefore extended her dominating run at the national level this season. At the Fall World Cup Selections held in Montreal last September, she swept all six events scheduled on the women's side. In addition, at last fall's World Cup stages, the Saint-Félicien, QC, athlete earned seven individual medals in eight events.
 
“My goal is not to remain unbeaten, and it's not to be beaten either. If I race well, that will lead me to victory but in the end, my goal is to be world champion and not Canadian champion,” said St-Gelais. “But if I have to go through the latter to get to the former, I'll take it and I will try to win every time I race. When I go on the ice, I always go for the win.”
 
For Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, Friday's second-place finish was her first-ever podium result at Canadian Senior Championships.
 
“It really came down to the very end with Marianne,” pointed out the 21-year-old skater. “Finishing second today was beyond my expectations. It adds on to my confidence level for the rest of the competition.”
                     
As for Marie-Ève Drolet, ending up on the podium in her best distance signals a successful return to top-level competition, as she was skating with the country's best skaters at Canadian Championships for the first time since taking part in the Olympic trials ahead of the 2014 Games. Meanwhile, the 33-year-old athlete gave birth to her first child in January of 2015.
 
“I was tense all day,” admitted the two-time Olympic medalist. “It was hard mentally because it had been a while since I had taken part in trials. But at the same time, I tried to remain calm and positive and it really helped me to reach the final and to do well. I managed my stress well and I'm happy with how I did. It's a good start and I need to stay focused.”
 
Charles Hamelin still king of the 1500m
On the men's side, Charles Hamelin again won the 1500m, to hold on to the title he also earned in 2015.
                   
Friday, the athlete from Sainte-Julie, QC, skated to a time of 2:18.065 to finish ahead of Samuel Girard (2:18.115) of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, and Sasha Fathoullin of Calgary (2:18.282).
 
“In the semifinal, I was pleasantly surprised when I came up with a very good time of 2:11.848,” said Charles Hamelin. “I didn't feel in my legs that I was going that fast. I felt good, but not that good and it gave me confidence. In the final, I didn't panic even if, at a certain point, I was in fourth place. Even if the race was going at a fast pace, I stayed calm and I focused on overtaking when it was time to do it and I ended up in front with three laps to go. I stayed aware of what was going on around me in order to protect my first-place position, for instance against Samuel (Girard), who was so close I could feel his helmet on my hands behind my back.”
 
Samuel Girard, for his part, opted for a conservatice approach by looking to protect his second-place position rather than to try to get ahead of Charles Hamelin.
 
“In the final, I focused on getting into a good position right off the start. It paid off!”, said Girard. “I did well when it came time to get ahead of other skaters. Towards the end, Charles (Hamelin) was ahead of me and he had good pace. I was protecting my second-place position because overall points are very important at this competition. It's a very good start for me.”
 
Sasha Fathoullin earned his first career podium finish at Canadian Senior Championships. Last year, he ended up 10th in the men's 1500m.
 
“I was fourth with four or five laps to go and I went by Patrick Duffy, and then Charle Cournoyer,” he said. “Overtaking is something I've worked on for a long time, and it was one of my main goals today. It feels good to reach it, as is winning my first medal at Canadian Senior Championships.”
 
On Saturday, the 64 top short track speed skaters in Canada will face off in the 500m event starting at 1:10 p.m. (Eastern Time). Admission is $5 per day or $10 for the three-day competition, and is free for kids six years of age or less.
 
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
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Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
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