Marie-Eve Drolet kicks off her comeback at the international level on the right foot at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating stage held in Calgary

Calgary, November 4, 2016 – Back on the international scene for the first time since the spring of 2014, Marie-Eve Drolet qualified for the final stages of both her events, Friday, on the first day of the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating stage held until Sunday at Calgary's Olympic Oval. Meanwhile, Canadian team leaders Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais both reached the final rounds in both their respective events.

Marie-Eve Drolet (Saguenay, Chicoutimi borough, QC), who give birth to her first child in January of 2015, was first in her heat in the 1500m to therefore earn a spot in Saturday's semifinals in that distance. Drolet, who last skated at the international level at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and the World Championships that followed that year, also came up with one of the two fastest times among third-place finishers in the second 500m event scheduled this weekend, therefore ensuring a spot in Sunday's quarterfinals.

“I was a little nervous at the starting line, but not too much, just enough,” said Marie-Ève Drolet. “The atmosphere was a little like the Olympics considering how loud the crowd was yelling. On the ice, I quickly felt at ease. Even if there tends to be more overtaking and blocking in races these days (compared to 2014), those are things that we do so often in training that I didn't feel out of step.”

“I know what I could have done differently today, but I didn't make too many mistakes, so that's good for my confidence level”, added Drolet who is looking for a spot in the 1500m A final and a top-8 result in the 500m.

Marianne St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, QC) finished first in her heat in both of her races, Friday, to qualify for the quarterfinals in the first of two 500m events slated for the weekend, as well as for Sunday's 1000m quarterfinals.

“In the 500m, the race was faster than I expected, but I'm still happy with my race, while I went into the 1000m with a more relaxed approach, with the goal of simply finding a good groove,” said Marianne St-Gelais, who won 11 medals in 12 events on the World Cup circuit last season, including six in six 500m races and three in three 1000m events.

“My plan this weekend is to race with the intention of going after the gold medal. After what I saw today, I'm confident, I like my chances.”

Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC) was first in his heat in the first 500m, therefore reaching Saturday's quarterfinals. He was advanced to the 1000m quarterfinals, slated for Sunday, after Russia's Victor An committed a foul at his expense.

“In the 500m, I was mostly aiming to get rid of the rust,” he said. “In the 1000m, I was first with one lap to go when An overtook me and fell in front of me, and as he fell, he hit my right blade with his hand and caused me to fall as well.”

A perfect day for Bradette on the women's team
Kasandra Bradette (Saint-Félicien, QC) was perfect in Friday's qualifying, as she took first place in her heat in both 500m events, to earn berths in the quarterfinals in each case.

“I worked very hard on my starts in recent weeks, to help me feel more comfortable on the line,” said Kasandra Bradette, who finished fifth in the 500m held at last spring's World Championships, in addition to collecting a bronze medal in the 1000m at that same competition. “Knowing that I would be more solid on the line, that I would be able to stay there without moving, it gave me a boost of confidence and it made for a great day of skating.”

Kim Boutin (Sherbrooke, QC), who collected a silver medal in the 1500m at last year's first World Cup stage, held in Montreal, also qualified for the final rounds in both her events, finishing first in her heat in the 1000m and second in the 1500m to earn spots in the semifinals in each distance.

“I went through all sorts of emotions this morning – stress, excitement – but I quickly got my confidence back once I was on the ice, especially when I found myself skating out in front,” said Boutin, who missed the last two World Cup stages and the World Championships, last season. “I will go about it step by step, to see what I'm able to give.”

Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, La Baie borough, QC), who is ranked second in the world in the women's 1000m, was first in her heat in that distance, Friday, which qualified her for Sunday's quarterfinals. She was disqualified from the 500m (1) after judges ruled she had provoked a third false start in her heat.

Jamie Macdonald (Fort St. James, B.C.), who won her first individual medal on the World Cup circuit last season, qualified for the 500m (2) quarterfinals after finishing first in her heart. After settling for fifth place in Friday's 1500m race, she will have to go through the repechage heats in that distance on Saturday morning.

Cournoyer and Girard perfect on the men's team
Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, QC) and Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC) also had a perfect day, as they each won their heats in both of their respective events.

Cournoyer, won who five medals last season on the World Cup circuit, therefore qualified for the 1500m semifinals, Saturday, and the 1000m quarterfinals, Sunday. As for Girard, the silver medalist in the 1000m distance at last spring's World Championships, he earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the weekend's first 500m event, and of Sunday's 1000m.

François Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC), Pascal Dion (Montreal, Rivière-des-Prairies/Pointe-aux-Trembles borough, QC) and William Preudhomme (Toronto, ON) also reached the final rounds in both their respective events.

Both relay teams finished first in the respective heats and therefore advanced to Saturday's semifinals. The women's relay was comprised of Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette and Kim Boutin, while Friday's skaters on the men's team were Charles and François Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer and Samuel Girard.

The men's relay had a fast race, coming a mere two seconds away from the world record.

“We were going for the record, we talked about it before the race,” said Charles Hamelin. “We were a bit disappointed not to come up with it, but the ice wasn't in the best shape for that and the record does belong to Canada already. It's only a question of time before we do it.”

The first 500m event and the 1500m races will resume on Saturday, with repechage heats starting at 8:55 am, local time, and quarterfinal rounds starting at 1 pm at the Olympic Oval. The second 500m and the 1000m are slated for Sunday.

Tickets are still available at www.universe.com/calgary2016. Furthermore, spectators will also be able to enjoy different activities throughout the weekend in the Fan Zone.

Races broadcast by CBC Sports
The official broadcast of the event will be available live on CBC as part of CBC Sports’ Road To The Olympic Games and will also be streamed live at cbcsports.ca, via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices, and in French at ici.radio-canada.ca/sports.

Live streaming coverage of the finals will be available on Saturday, Nov. 5 and Sunday, Nov. 6 beginning at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) each day at cbcsports.ca and via the CBC Sports app.. Competitions will also be broadcast live on CBC on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT). CBC Sports’ Scott Russell will host the TV broadcast and provide play-by-play commentary alongside analyst and three-time Olympic speed skating medallist Catriona Le May Doan. A full schedule is available on Speed Skating Canada’s website at http://www.speedskating.ca and at cbcsports.ca.

More details are available on Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca/fr/calgary2016.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m (1) W
Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday pm
Kasandra Bradette: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday pm
Valérie Maltais: penalty in the heats and eliminated

500m (2) F
Kasandra Bradette: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
Jamie Macdonald: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
Marie-Ève Drolet: 3rd in the heats but will will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm after being one of the two fastest third place skaters

500m (1) M
Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday pm
Samuel Girard: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday pm
William Preudhomme: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday pm

500m (2) W
Pascal Dion: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
William Preudhomme: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
François Hamelin: advanced in the heats following a fall and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm

1000m W
Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
Kim Boutin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm

1000m M
Samuel Girard: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
Charle Cournoyer: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday pm
Charles Hamelin: advanced to quarterfinals which will be held Sunday pm following a fall

1500m W
Marie-Ève Drolet: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday pm
Kim Boutin: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday pm
Jamie Macdonald: 5th in the heats and will take part in the repechage rounds Saturday morning

1500m M
Charle Cournoyer: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday pm
François Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday pm
Pascal Dion: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday pm

Women’s Relay
1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday pm
(Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Kim Boutin, Kasandra Bradette)

Men’s Relay
1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday pm
(Charles Hamelin, François Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Samuel Girard)

About the 2016 ISU Short Track World Cup in Calgary
The 2016 ISU World Cup in Short Track Speed Skating, to be held Nov. 4-6 at Calgary's Olympic Oval, will feature the top short track speed skaters in the world at the first stage of a season that will include six World Cup weekends.

The organizing committee for the 2016 ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Calgary would like to thank its partners and sponsors, including Alberta Sport Connection, Intact Insurance, Sport Canada, The City of Calgary and Tourism Calgary.

More details and tickets are available at http://www.speedskating.ca/fr/calgary2016.

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For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca 
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC

Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-589-8960
Website: www.speedskating.ca  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC    

Ryan Ohashi
Communications and Community Events Specialist
Olympic Oval | University of Calgary
2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
P: 403.220.2213 | C: 403.471.5784 | E: ryan.ohashi@ucalgary.ca