NEWS: Cournoyer wins first career medal at ISU Short Track World Cup in Japan

OTTAWA – In his first career World Cup appearance, Charle Cournoyer of Longueuil, Que., won Canada’s only medal today at the International Skating Union’s event in Nagoya, Japan. Cournoyer skated to the bronze medal (2:15.392) in the 1,500 metres, behind Korean teammates Jinkyu Noh (2:14.941) with gold and Ho-Suk Lee (2:15.127) with silver.

“I had a big day today,” said Cournoyer. “I saw a big difference in my races from yesterday to today. I was more relaxed. I didn’t that (a bronze medal), but certainly I want to win my races. In the last lap, I thought ‘wow’, third.”

Today’s races featured the 1,500-metre, the first of two 1,000-metre competitions and the men’s and women’s relay semi-finals. On Sunday, there will be the 500-metre and second 1,000-metre races, as well as the relay finals.

Skating with Cournoyer in the 1,500 metres were Yellowknife’s Michael Gilday and Charles Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, Que. Gilday did not qualify for the A final, but took second place in the B final for a ninth overall ranking. Hamelin was penalized in his semifinal heat and eliminated, taking a ranking of 19th.

In the women’s 1,500 metres, Montreal’s Andréa Do-Duc was fifth in her semifinal and ranked 16th overall. Caroline Truchon of Chicoutimi, Que., who skated in the repechage, received a yellow card and was eliminated from the 1,500 metres.

In men’s 1,000 metres, Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., was edged off the podium finishing in fourth (1:27.284) behind Yoon-Gy Kwak of Korea (1:29.063) in first, J.R. Celski of the United States in second (1:27.886) and Yi Ra Seo of Korea in third (1:27.460). Rémi Beaulieu of Alma, Que., won the B final for a fifth overall ranking. Quebec City’s Alexandre St. Jean, 16th overall, was penalized in his quarter-final heat and eliminated.

For women’s 1,000-metre distance, at World Cup, Kasandra Bradette of St. Félicien, Que., finished 10th overall, Montreal’s Sabrina Bourgela was 17th and Vanessa Bélanger-Marceau of Loretteville, Que., was 27th.

In the relays, both teams were eliminated from Sunday’s A finals. After a fall in their race, the women’s foursome of Bélanger-Marceau, Bourgela, Bradette and Truchon finished fourth. They will skate in the B final.

In the men’s relay semifinal, Beaulieu, Gilday, Hamelin and Jean were penalized just before the finish line and eliminated from either final.

With Cournoyer’s medal today, the World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance is up to $21,000 (11 gold medals, seven silver and three bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. Last season, Intact Insurance awarded more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

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