Marianne St-Gelais: 1500m World Champion

Seoul, South Korea, March 12, 2016 – Marianne St-Gelais won her first-ever world title by winning the gold medal in the 1500m, and added a silver medal in the 500m, Saturday, at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships held in Seoul, South Korea.

This world title is the first won by a female Canadian skater since Kalyna Roberge in the 500m in 2007.

Her win in the 1500m distance allowed the skater from Saint-Félicien, QC, to reach one of her goals at these World Championships. Her other goal is a top-3 finish in overall standings. With these two medals Saturday, St-Gelais skated to the top of the provisional overall standings.

"I wanted a title and I got it," she said. "It just goes to show to what extent we did some good work this season."

Marianne St-Gelais won the 1500m final ahead of South Korea's Choi Minjeong and Great Britain's Elise Christie.

"I went on the podium, they gave me my medal and all that, but it seems that it still didn't dawn on me for a big part of the day," said Marianne St-Gelais of her 1500m world title. "But it turned out to be a good thing, I had to keep my emotions in check for a while anyway because I had another race to do."

Marianne St-Gelais then took the second spot in the 500m behind China's Fan Kexin and ahead of another Chinese skater, Qu Chunyu.

The 26-year-old skater therefore collected a gold medal and a silver for the first time in her career at World Championships, after she earned bronze in the 1500m in 2013 as well as in the 500m event in 2010.

"I had some good races," she said. "It's funny because I didn't feel particularly well when I got here in Seoul. It just goes to show that no matter what the circumstances, you just need to be confident in what you can do."

Her performance Saturday puts her in provisional first place in overall standings, ahead of Fan Kexin and Choi Minjeong, respectively second and third. She is therefore in a good position to win the overall 2016 world title. There is a 1000m event left on Sunday's schedule, and the top eight skaters in overall standings after that race will then take part in the 3000m Super-Final and therefore vye for extra points in the battle for the overall world crown.

"I won't change anything to my game plan or my routine," said Marianne St-Gelais about the task that lies ahead for her on Sunday. "I won't be thinking about the hat I'm now wearing, I'll just focus on what I have to do on the ice. I will try to earn the most points possible in the 1000m to give myself a wider margin after that in the 3000m."

Second time a charm for Girard and Bradette
For their part, Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, and Kasandra Bradette, of Saint-Félicien, QC, earned their best career results at World Championships. Girard finished fourth in the A final of the 1500m and third in the B final of the 500m, good for seventh place overall in that distance, while Bradette won the B final in the women's 500m to finish fifth in the world overall in that distance.

Eliminated in the 1500m semifinals when she finished fifth in her heat, Kasandra Bradette made amends in the 500m that followed, Saturday, when she won that B final to end up fifth overall in the 500m at these World Championships, and take 8th place in overall standings.

Samuel Girard, for his part, finished fourth in the 1500m final, behind China's Han Tianyu, who was first, Hungary's Liu Shaoang, second, and South Korea's Park Se Yeong, third.

"The races were pretty tight so it was hard to recover. I tried to manage my energy level in the final, and I thought I performed well with what I had," said Samuel Girard. "Fourth place, that's a result that I'll take with a smile even if a podium, obviously, would have been better. Still, fourth is a big improvement on last year, and I'm taking it step by step."

The 19-year-old skater subsequently qualified for the B final in the 500m. He finished third, good for seventh place overall in that distance, as well as for sixth place in provisional overall standings.

Samuel Girard and Kasandra Bradette are both skating at World Championships for the second time. Bradette notably finished seventh in the 500m last year, while Girard's best result in 2015 was 18th place in the 1500m.

The day didn't go as well for Charles Hamelin. Already eliminated in the 500m on Friday, the veteran skater from Sainte-Julie, QC, who was crowned world champion in the 1500m in 2014 and in the 500m event in 2009, was penalized in the 1500m final following a contact with another skater, losing another chance to earn points in overall standings.

"It's unfortunate because my race was going quite well until I tried to overtake on the inside. I had what it took to win that race," said Charles Hamelin who, coming to Seoul, was aiming for the overall world title and must now settle for 11th place. "I will now focus on Sunday's 1000m and try to collect the most points possible to try and qualify for the 3000m, and climb back up in the standings."

The other Canadian skating in individual events, Valérie Maltais de Saguenay (La Baie borough), was eliminated in the 1500m semifinals and the 500m quarterfinals.

In the relay, Canada qualified for the A finals, both in the men's and women's competitions.

Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard, Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC, and Sasha Fathoullin of Calgary, AB, allowed the Canadian men's team to win its semifinal heat, Saturday, to reach Sunday's final.

On the women's side, Marianne St-Gelais, Kasandra Bradette, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal (Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie borough), QC and Audrey Phaneuf of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, led Canada to second place in its heat, behind China, to earn a spot in Sunday's A final. Saturday's race had to be done over after a track steward collided with Valérie Maltais. She was then replaced by Harris-Gauthier.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

Overall ranking (after two events)
W
1. Marianne St-Gelais
8. Kasandra Bradette
13. Valérie Maltais

H
6. Samuel Girard
11. Charles Hamelin

1500m W
Marianne St-Gelais: gold medal (overall ranking: 1)
Kasandra Bradette: 5th in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 14)
Valérie Maltais: 6th in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 16)

1500m H
Samuel Girard: 4th in the A final (final ranking: 4)
Charles Hamelin: penalty in the A final (final ranking: 7)

500m W
Marianne St-Gelais: silver medal (final ranking: 2)
Kasandra Bradette: first in the B final (final ranking: 5)
Valérie Maltais : fell in the quarterfinals, finished fourth and eliminated (final ranking: 13)

500m M
Samuel Girard: third in the B final (final ranking: 7)
Charles Hamelin: fell in the heats and eliminated (final ranking: 28)

Relay W
Canada: second in the semifinals and will take part in the A final Sunday
(Marianne St-Gelais, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, Audrey Phaneuf, Kasandra Bradette)

Relay M
Canada: first in the semifinals and will take part in the A final Sunday
(Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Sasha Fathoullin, Samuel Girard)

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