Marianne St-Gelais wins silver medal in 500m at Montreal World Cup

Marianne St-Gelais added another podium to her collection, Saturday at Maurice-Richard Arena, when she picked up a silver medal in the first of two 500m women's races scheduled at the Montreal ISU Short Track World Cup.

St-Gelais, of Saint-Félicien, Quebec, therefore won her fourth medal of the 2014-15 World Cup season. Last week in Salt Lake City, during the first weekend of the season, she collected a gold medal in the women's 1,000m, a bronze in the 500m and a bronze in the 3,000m relay.

“The results are there, I'm in shape and I feel good,” noted St-Gelais. “But regardless of the results I would have had, I would have been happy anyway because I feel I have strong legs, and that I'm strong mentally. I'm mostly happy that my good old reflexes are back when I skate.”

Saturday, St-Gelais took second place in 43.373 seconds, behind China's Fan Kexin (43.161), the gold medalist, and ahead of South Korea's Jeon Ji-Soo (43.481), the bronze medalist.

Although she improved her ranking by one spot compared to Salt Lake City in the 500m, St-Gelais wasn't entirely satisfied with second place.

“I was going for gold and nothing else,” said the 24-year-old athlete. “I had a good opening to overtake (Fan) in the middle of the race, I was sure it was going to work, but she closed the door and after that, she knew I was right behind her and she made me lose some of my speed. After that, it was too late. On the other hand, I'm happy I was able to protect second place.”

Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien, Quebec, and Kim Boutin, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, respectively finished second and fourth in the B final of the women's 500m.

Joanie Gervais, of Saguenay, was the other Canadian to take part in a A final on Saturday. The 20-year-old athlete, who is making her World Cup debut this season, finished sixth in the A final of the women's 1,500m. She started the day by qualifying for the semifinal through the rep heats, and then finished second in her heat in the semifinal to qualify for the A final.

“I still lack a little something to be able to keep pace with the others,” said Gervais of performance in the final. “But I'm proud that I was able to earn a spot in the final.”

“In Salt Lake City, Joanie couldn't find a way to get around her opponents, but she was able to do it today,” said Frédéric Blackburn, the Canadian women's team head coach, of Gervais' road to the final. “She really had a good day.”

The other Canadian taking part in the women's 1,500m race, Valérie Maltais, finished sixth in the B final.

The women's 3,000m relay team qualified for the A final, Sunday, after finishing second in its heat in the semifinal.

On the men's side, Charles Hamelin had to settle for the B final in the 1,500m event, which he won. He lost all hope of reaching the A final when a Chinese opponent pushed him and made him fall in the semifinal. The skater was penalized for his infraction, but because the native of Sainte-Julie, Quebec, was fourth when it happened, the officials could only award him a spot in the B final.

“The Chinese skater put his hand on my knee when we were coming out of the turn as I was trying to overtake him, and he pushed,” explained Hamelin. “It's unfortunate, I felt good and I was about to make a move towards first place.

“It's on me to find strategies that will allow me to go and get the win even when I'm fourth towards the end of a race,” added the 30-year-old veteran.

Guillaume Bastille, of Rivière-du-Loup, finished third in the B final of the men's 1,500m. The A final was won by South Korea's Park Se Yeong in 2:12.698.

No Canadian reached the men's 500m finals. Samuel Girard, of Fernand-et-Boileau, Quebec, and Samuel Bélanger-Marceau, of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, were eliminated during the rep heats. China's Wu Dajing won the A final in 40.720.

The second 500m of the weekend will be held Sunday, as well as the 1,000m, starting at 1:10 pm. Those events will be followed by the finals for the two relays.

A total of 165 skaters from 21 nations are taking part in the Montreal World Cup weekend. Admission is $15 to $25.

CANADIAN RESULTS SATURDAY:
500m M
Samuel Girard : eliminated in repechage semifinal
Samuel Bélanger-Marceau : disqualified in 1st round of repechage heats

500m W
Marianne St-Gelais : 1st in her heat in quarter-finals; 1st in her heat in semifinal, qualified for A final ; silver medalist in A final in 43.373 seconds.
Kasandra Bradette : 2nd in her heat in quarter-finals; 4th in her heat in semifinal, qualified for B final ; 2nd in B final.
Kim Boutin : 2nd in her heat in quarter-finals; 3rd in her heat in semifinal, qualified for B final; 4th in B final.

1,500m M
Charles Hamelin : fall in semifinal following an infraction by an opponent that was sanctioned in semifinal while he was 4th, awarded a spot in B final; 1st in B final.
Guillaume Bastille : 3rd in his heat in semifinal, qualified for B final; 3rd in B final.
Yoan Gauthier : qualified for semifinal through repechage heats, disqualified in semifinal.

1,500m W
Valérie Maltais : 3rd in her heat in semifinal, qualified for B final; 6th in B final.
Joanie Gervais : qualified for semifinal through repechage heats; 2nd in her heat in semifinal, qualified for A final; 6th in A final in 2:39.951.

3,000m W relay
Canada 2nd in semifinal, qualified for Sunday's A final
 
Full results at: http://shorttrack.sportresult.com/.
 
More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.
 
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Jeff MacKinnon          
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