Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau & François-Louis Tremblay Win National Team Selection #2

Canada’s elite short track speed skaters can now call it a season, after they completed their last races of the National Team Selection #2 at the Maurice-Richard Arena, today. At stake are precious places on next year’s National and Development Teams. Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) and François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC) won the overall honours of this weekend’s competition.

The ten skaters competing this weekend at the World Team Championships in Warsaw, Poland, already secured their place on the 2011-12 National Team. Three more spots were up for grab, and with this weekend’s results combined with the ones from the Canadian Open Championships, they will likely go to Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau, Gabrielle Waddell (Red Deer, AB) and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB). On the men side, skaters ranked 5 to 8 in overall rankings of the two competitions are Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC), Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) and Maxime Fortin (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), but François-Louis Tremblay, who couldn’t skate in January’s Canadian Open Championships due to an ankle injury, has requested a bye, which could move him up the ranks.

The first final disputed today was the ladies’ 1000m, featuring Mendes-Campeau, Waddell, Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC) and Kasandra Bradette (St-Félicien, QC). Waddell took the lead off the start, closely followed by Bradette, Marceau and Mendes-Campeau. Two laps into the race, Bradette passed first from the inside, but Marceau was quick to make her way in front on the outside. Moments later, a contact between Waddell and Marceau allowed Bradette to get back ahead. Halfway through the race, Marceau took the lead while Mendes-Campeau, quietly observing from the back until then, started a powerful outside pass that she completed two laps later. Never looking back, Mendes-Campeau won the race in 1:38.800. Behind, Waddell took advantage of her good speed in the last lap to clinch the second position in 1:39.196, relegating Marceau to third place (1:39.235) and Bradette, who won yesterday’s 500m event, finished fourth (1:39.490).

Maxime Fortin (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) raced beautifully to take the win in the men’s 1000m. With five skaters at the start line including Fortin, Tremblay, Beaulieu, Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (Sherbrooke, QC), it was bound to be an eventful race.

Fortin was the first off the start line, but Boisvert-Lacroix, Tremblay, Beaulieu and Monette weren’t far behind. Countless passes took place for most of the race, all skaters wanting to position themselves as best as they could before the final sprint to the finish. With two and a half laps left in the race, Boisvert-Lacroix was ahead, followed in order by Fortin, Tremblay, Beaulieu and Monette. That’s when Fortin made his final move, taking the lead and cruising to the finish in 1:28.910. In the end, Tremblay was second in 1:28.957, Beaulieu third (1:29.054), Monette fourth (1:29.213) and Boisvert-Lacroix fifth (1:29.506).

The last races of the day were the 3000m finals. In the women A final, Sabrina Bourgela (Montréal, QC) took off fast, wanting to get the bonus points that go to the first skater to complete 9 laps. Bourgela was able to lap the pack and get a draft for the rest of the race. Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau and Laurie Marceau also both exploded early in the race and took a lap on the pack, sticking to the last skater afterwards. Five laps before the end of the race, Mendes-Campeau, who still had some energy left, went ahead and accelerated, taking her second victory of the day. Marceau clinched the second place and Bourgela was able to remain strong enough to keep the third position. They were followed in order at the finish by Kassandra Bradette, Gabrielle Waddell, Vanessa Bélanger-Marceau (St-Bruno, QC), Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) and Courtney Shmyr of British Columbia.

The men’s race was just as eventful. Rémi Beaulieu gave a fast pace to the majority of the race. Alex Boisvert-Lacroix and Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB) both sprinted to get the bonus points, and it’s Boisvert-Lacroix who managed to do so. In the end, Guillaume Bastille won the race, closely followed by Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier. Marc-André Monette, who was skating in the last race of his career after spending five years on the National Team, finished in good fashion by taking third place. Maxime Fortin was fourth, François-Louis Tremblay fifth, Rémi Beaulieu sixth, Liam McFarlane seventh and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix eight.

In the overall rankings for the National Team Selection #2, Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau finished on top with 2528 points. Gabrielle Waddell won silver (2520 points) and Laurie Marceau bronze (2369 points). François-Louis Tremblay won the overall title for the men (2854 points), while silver went to Rémi Beaulieu (1933 points) and Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier (1845 points) won the bronze medal.

This puts an end to the national season of Canadian elite short track speed skaters. They will now enjoy a few weeks off before high performance skaters return to the ice for training early May.

There is one more day of competition left to the Canadian Junior A, B & neo senior Championships, however. Tomorrow, they will compete in the 1000m and 3000m finals as well as relay finals. Races will start at 9am at the Maurice-Richard Arena and they can also be watched live in webstreaming at http://codempv.org/.