Marianne St-Gelais & Guillaume Blais-Dufour Canadian junior champions

Marianne St-Gelais and Guillaume Blais-Dufour each won the Canadian junior champion title at the 2008 Canadian Junior Short Track Championship held over the weekend at the Centre Georges-Vézina in Saguenay. With the title, they both get a spot on the Canadian team that will compete at the next ISU World Junior Short Track Championship in Sherbrooke on January 9-11, 2009.

Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien,QC), who recently won a silver medal in the 500m at a World Cup, took the gold in the 500m, and silver in all other distances (1000m, 1500m and super 1500m). This was enough for the overall victory with 3448 points on a possible 4000. She finished ahead of her team mate from the National short track training centre in Montreal, Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC). Despite two victories, Maltais finished with 3359 points, 89 less than St-Gelais.

Third place went to Ontarian skater Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON) with a total of 2405 points, including the victory in the last distance of the weekend, the super 1500m. Blondin was 5th overall after the first day of races on Saturday, but she managed to sneak in third, ahead of Montreal athlete Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau who will be the alternate at the World Junior Championship, and of Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau, QC) who was disqualified for a bad pass in the last final, costing her a place on the team.

On the men side, Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Québec, QC) showed what he was able to do today, taking the overall win with a total of 2994 points. The silver medallist in the 500m and 4th overall at last year’s World Junior Championship in Italy will therefore have one more chance to make his way on the overall podium in what will be his last junior championship, as he is now in his last year as a junior athlete.

Representing Canada alongside Blais-Dufour will be two rookies, Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier (2752 points) and young Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu (2593 points), 16. A disqualification in 1/8th of final in the 1000m was costly for experienced skater Maxime Fortin (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), who had to settle for fourth overall with 2473.

The Canadian team will now enjoy a break of a few days before preparing for the ISU World Junior Short Track Championship that will be held right after the Holidays, from January 9 to 11, in Sherbrooke.