Laurie Marceau & Pierre-Olivier Gagnon become Canadian Junior Short Track Champions

Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC) and Pierre-Olivier Gagnon (Québec, QC) became the new Canadian Junior Short Track speed skating champions this weekend, following the Canadian Junior Championships held in Edmonton.

Marceau, who turned 18 yesterday, is a new member of the Canadian National Team this year, and she dominated the women side, with victories in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m races, and a third place finish in the Super 1500m. “My objective coming here this weekend was to make the team,” explained the young skater, refering to the team that will represent Canada at the World Junior Championships in Chinese Taipe next January. “I knew I could finish first, but I wanted to be consistant, to avoid mistakes,” she said. Marceau has been training with the National Team in Montreal this year, after her sixth place in Canada last year gave her a coveted spot on the team. “Of course to train with the girls at the national training centre is very useful and positive for me, I’m starting to get a lot of experience.”

Sabrina Bourgela, 19 (Montréal, QC), finished second in the women’s overall rankings, thanks to a second place in the 1000m, a third place finish in the 500m and a fourth place in the Super 1500m. Ontarian Kristy Shoebridge (Cambridge) will be the third skater to race individual distances at next month’s World Championships, after she finished second of both the 1500m and Super 1500m. Canada’s team will be completed with Keri Morrison (Burlington, ON), winner of today’s Super 1500m final, who will join her teammates for the relay races.

“Aside from Laurie who was a clear first, it was a close race until the end on the women side,” explained Canada’s Short Track Program Director, Yves Hamelin. “There are 4-5 girls who were fighting for a spot on the team, and the last race – the Super 1500m – determined the final results and the team for the worlds.”

On the men side, it was a battle between Pierre-Olivier Gagnon and the only skater at the selection who has experience at the World Junior Championships, Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (Sherbrooke, QC), who won one silver and one bronze medal at the event last year. A fall by Gélinas-Beaulieu in the 500m semi-final race made the difference, and Gagnon managed to take the first spot with 3298 points, thanks to a victory in the 500m, second place finishes in the 1000m and 1500m, and a third place in the Super 1500m. Gélinas-Beaulieu, who won the 1000m and 1500m races and finished 2nd of the Super 1500m, but 5th in the 500m, ended up second with 3259 points.

“Coming into this competition, I was the only one with experience at the Worlds, so I knew I was a favourite, but I didn’t want to underestimate the others,” explained Gélinas-Beaulieu. “The 1500m went well, I won with a good gap, but then in the 500m I made a mistake in the semi-final, I wanted to pass the guy in front of me and I fell, so I didn’t make the A final. I still managed to win the 1000m the next day and take second place in the Super 1500m, so I’m pretty happy with my weekend and my second place overall. At the World Championships, my objectives will likely be similar to last year’s – to make the semi-finals. I still need to sit with my coach and figure things out, but I’m young so I don’t feel much pressure, I know I have time ahead of me” finished the 17 year old athlete, who still has a few junior years to look forward to.

Mikhail Jeonghan Choi (17 years old, Montreal, QC) and Robert Watson (19 years old, Whitby, ON) took third and fourth place in the overall rankings, giving them a good chance to represent Canada at the World Junior Championships. But the last positions on the team are still to be confirmed, as Speed Skating Canada received a bye request that still has to be evaluated. Canada’s official Team for the international event should be announced in the next few weeks and will be posted at www.speedskating.ca under the press room section.