Nine Canadian skaters have a perfect day in qualifying on first day of Toronto's ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating

Olympic medalists Valérie Maltais, Marianne St-Gelais, Charles Hamelin and Charle Cournoyer led a group of nine Canadian skaters who had a perfect day in qualifying, Friday, on the first day of the very first ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating ever to be held in Toronto.

Maltais (La Baie, Qc) earned her spot in elimination rounds for the women's 1500m that will take place Saturday at MasterCard Centre, as well as for Sunday's 1000m. St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, Qc) did the same in the 1500m and the second 500m event of the weekend, slated for Sunday, while Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, Qc) qualified for both 500m events scheduled over the weekend – one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Charle Counoyer from Boucherville, QC, did the same in the 1000m and 1500m.

All four skaters will therefore have an opportunity to win two medals each, as will five others Canadian skaters: Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Qc (qualified in both 500m events) and Sasha Fathoullin of Calgary, Alberta (the first 500m and the 1000m) on the men's side, as well as Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Qc (1500m and Sunday's 500m), Kasandra Bradette from Saint-Félicien, Qc (Saturday's 500m and the 1000m) and Jamie MacDonald of Fort St. James, B.C. (Saturday's 500m and Sunday's 1000m).

Maltais, a familiar face to Toronto-area sports fans after she took part in this summer's Pan-American Games in in-line skating, said she is determined to make amends after going through a frustrating weekend in Montreal, during the first stage of the 2015-2016 World Cup season. Canadian skaters won seven medals over that weekend, including six individual medals, but Maltais was eliminated in the semifinals in both her races due to penalties.

“It's part of short track to take chances, to be aggressive and to try and overtake, and I had the right intensity level last week. I felt extremely good, I felt able to go out and end up on the podium. So yes, it was a little bit frustrating to see my road to the final cut short. At the same time, I need to learn from that,” said Maltais, who won a silver medal in relay at the Sochi Olympic Games.

“The good news is that I had just as much energy today. I'll therefore be able to sleep well tonight knowing that, and I'll just need to make sure I get enough rest for this weekend's races.”

After winning a gold medal in the 500m and a silver in the 1000m last weekend in Montreal, Marianne St-Gelais hopes to keep skating at the same level in Toronto, Saturday and Sunday.

“The ice is different here than it was in Montreal, so I had to be a little careful out there, but the day went OK, I qualified, and now the show goes on,” said St-Gelais. “I hope there will be great crowds this weekend, we want to show local sports fans how good Canada is at short track speed skating. In my case, I'll be going for another gold in the 500m.”

Charles Hamelin and Samuel Girard, who went 1-2 in last weekend's 1000m, hope to do it again in Toronto in another distance, as they both qualified for both 500m events slated at this stage.

“I really like racing with my teammates, it means we have greater chances to go deeper into rounds,” said Charles Hamelin. “And it's also a good feeling to have teammates around you on the ice.”

“I'm quite happy, the day went well,” said Samuel Girard. “But I spent a lot of time up front, I was skating really fast and I did well to overtake, so things are looking good. I'm looking for more podium finishes this weekend.”

Sasha Fathoullin, who is making his World Cup debut this season, had a perfect day in qualifying, like he did a week ago in Montreal.

“I focused on the same things that I did in Montreal, which was to get a feeling for the race and for the ice. I just trusted in my abilities after getting a big boost of confidence in Montreal,” he said. “Today, I felt more comfortable racing with all these skaters. So I'm hoping to get a shot at getting my first World Cup medal this weekend, for the team and for myself.”

Patrick Duffy qualifies for the 1500m
Patrick Duffy (Oakville, ON), who is skating at a World Cup in his home province for the very first time, qualified for Saturday's 1500m semifinals. Fourth in his heat in the 500m, Friday, he will need to go through the repechage heats in that distance, Sunday morning.

“In the 1500m, I had what I would qualify as a perfect race. I stayed in good position and the efficiency was good, so there are a lot of positives to take into the weekend,” he said. “In the 500m, it went OK, it's just that there were better skaters today, and I made a technical mistake that cost me.”

Patrick Duffy also took in the atmosphere at MasterCard Centre, where he skated in front of some members of his former skating club in Oakville.

“The club president was there, and I expect them to be there in even greater numbers on Saturday,” he said. “It was cool to see.”

Audrey Phaneuf (Saint-Hyacinthe, Qc) qualified for the semifinals of Sunday's 500m race, but was disqualified from Saturday's 500m due to a penalty. François Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, Qc) was penalized and eliminated from Sunday's 1000m, and will have to go through repechage heats in Saturday's 1500m.

In the relay, the Canadian women's team – comprised of Valérie Maltais, Marianne St-Gelais, Kasandra Bradette and Audrey Phaneuf – finished first in its heat and earned a spot in Saturday's semifinals. Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Sasha Fathoullin and Samuel Girard did the same on the men's side.

The first 500m event of the weekend will take place on Saturday, as well as the women's and men's 1500, while the other 500m and the 1000m will follow Sunday. On both days, repechage heats will kick off at 9:10 am at MasterCard Centre, while final rounds will start at 1 pm.

After the first World Cup of the season was held last week in Montreal, a total of 146 athletes from 22 countries, i.e. 64 women and 82 men, are vying this weekend for medals. Fans of speed events will be able to see nine of the top 10 women in last season's World Championship overall standings, as well as eight of the top 10 men.
 
Several of speed skating's marquee athletes will be on hand, including 2015 world champions Choi Minjeong of South Korea and Sjinkie Knegt of the Netherlands, as well as Olympic medalists Shim Suk Hee and Alang Kim of South Korea, in addition to China's Fan Kexin, Shi Jingnan, Han Tianyu and Wu Dajing, who are all sure to provide exciting moments on the ice.
 
Tickets and the complete schedule for the races to be held during the three-day competition are available at www.speedskating.ca/toronto2015.

Sunday, November 8: meet Canadian team members
At the end of the day of competition on Sunday, November 8, Canadian team members will be inviting fans on hand to come and meet them at an autograph session to be held at MasterCard Centre.

Olympic medalists Charles Hamelin, Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Charle Cournoyer and François Hamelin will be on hand, along with their teammates, to meet with their Toronto-area fans.

Broadcast on CBC and radio-canada.ca
Races will be broadcast on CBC, official broadcaster of the event, on Saturday, November 7 from 5 pm to 6 pm (Eastern Time) as well as on Sunday, November 8 from 3 pm to 4 pm (Eastern Time), and also on its web site at cbcsports.ca, Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.

French-speaking fans can also follow the competition, as races will be webcast on the radio-canada.ca website from 1 pm to 5 pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
500m (1) W
-Kasandra Bradette: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Jamie MacDonald: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Audrey Phaneuf: penalty in the heats and eliminated

500m (2) W
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Audrey Phaneuf: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Kim Boutin: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday

500m (1) M
-Samuel Girard: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Sasha Fathoullin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Charles Hamelin: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday

500m (2) M
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Samuel Girard: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Patrick Duffy: 4th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Sunday morning

1000m W
-Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Jamie MacDonald: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Kasandra Bradette: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday

1000m M
-Charle Cournoyer: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Sasha Fathoullin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-François Hamelin: penalty in the heats and eliminated

1500m W
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semi-finals Saturday
-Valérie Maltais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semi-finals Saturday
-Kim Boutin: 3rd in the heats and will take part in the semi-finals Saturday

1500m M
-Patrick Duffy: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semi-finals Saturday
-Charle Cournoyer: 3rd in heats and qualified for the semi-finals Saturday based on being among the three fastest third place skaters
-François Hamelin: 5th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Saturday morning

Relay W
Canada: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semi-finals Saturday
(Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette, Audrey Phaneuf)

Relay M
Canada : 1st in the heats and will take part in the semi-finals Saturday
(Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Sasha (Alexander) Fathoullin, Samuel Girard)
More details available on Speed Skating Canada's web site at www.speedskating.ca.

About the 2015 ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Toronto
The 2015 ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Toronto, set to take place from November 6 to 8 at MasterCard Centre, features the best short track speed skaters in the world as part of the second stage of the 2015-2016 season. There will be six World Cups stages overall around the world.

The organizing committee for the 2015 ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Toronto would like to thank its partners and sponsors:

Corporate partners: Intact, Li-Ning, Usana, The Westin Harbour Castle, Snapd, 7-11, City-Chevrolet Buick Cadillac GMC

Government partners: Government of Canada, Tourism Toronto, City of Toronto

Sports partners: ISU, Ontario Speed Skating Association and Speed Skating Canada

About Speed Skating Canada
Speed Skating Canada (SSC) is the governing body for competitive long track and short track speed skating in Canada. Founded in 1887, the association is comprised of 13 provincial and territorial branches representing more than 14,000 individual members, and counting. SSC believes that sport is an apprenticeship for life and prizes respect for others, integrity, excellence of effort, as well as a safe, healthy environment. SSC recognizes and values its outstanding volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise. It also celebrates the 63 Olympic medals won by Canadian athletes since 1932, as well as the coaches, officials and other dedicated individuals who helped them on their journey.

SSC is proud to be affiliated with partners that share the same vision and values including our premium sponsors Intact Insurance, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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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