Pascal Dion shines in his World Cup Short Track debut in Nagoya, Japan

Nagoya, Japan, December 4, 2015 – Pascal Dion made a good impression at his first-ever World Cup Short Track, both individually and in the team relay, Friday, as the qualification rounds were held at the ISU World Cup in Nagoya, Japan. The 21-year-old Montrealer qualified directly for the final rounds in both 500m events he is skating in, and also contributed to Canada's comeback in the men's relay, which qualified for Saturday's semifinals in spite of a fall.

Overall, 10 of the 12 Canadian skaters who have travelled to Japan earned spots in the final rounds of individual events slated at the third stage of the 2015-2016 World Cup season.

In his first two career events at the World Cup level, Pascal Dion, who is from the Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles borough in Montreal, QC, qualified directly for the quarterfinals in both 500m events scheduled for this weekend, although he specializes in the 1000m and 1500m distances.

“It was a good thing for me to skate in the two 500m races, because it forced me to come out of my comfort zone,” said Dion.

“This year, I've improved my starts a lot and it showed today. In three of my four races, I found myself in front right away even though I wasn't in the number one position at the starting line. I was able to get more familiar with what you need to do when you're in front and trying to control the race.”

“I've already reached my goals by qualiying for the quarterfinals,” added Dion. “I'm now hoping for a top-8 result by qualifying for at least one B final in the 500m. I've raced very well so far, I've had good starts and I was able to overtake skaters. The plan is to continue doing that.”

Men's relay gets a scare
In the men's relay, the Canadian team comprised of Charles and François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC, and Dion had to deal with a fall with approximately 27 laps to go. Half a lap back at that point, the Canadian skaters gave it everything they had to come up with an incredible comeback that was capped by Dion, who finished the race for Canada.

“The relay race was out of this world,” said Charles Hamelin. “They pushed us, we fell and instead of staying down, we decided to try and come back. We went all out and we were able to catch up to the other teams, as well as overtake Hungary and Italy. We were able to finish second, but since Hungary was disqualified, we were awarded first place. We executed our race well, we didn't panic and we worked well as a team.”

On the women's side, Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, Valérie Maltais of La Baie, QC, Audrey Phaneuf of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, and Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal, Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie borough, QC, led Canada to a second-place finish in their heat, good for a spot in the semifinals.

22 spots in final rounds out of a total of 24 for Canada
While Canada is aiming for a total of 16 medals over the two ISU World Cups held in Asia, this weekend in Nagoya, Japan and next week in Shanghai, China, the Canadian team qualified Friday for 22 spots in the final rounds of individual events out of a possible total of 24.

Only Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, in the women's 1500m, and Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, in the men's 1000m, will have to go through the repechage rounds.

Marianne St-Gelais will try to extend her streak in Nagoya and go for her fifth and sixth medals in as many events this season. Friday, she qualified directly for the final rounds in the 500m (1) and 1000m events.

“It was a good day,” said St-Gelais, “Because there are no final rounds on Fridays, it's hard to set a goal in terms of performance, but I was looking to have a good rhythm and do well technically to set the table for Saturday's and Sunday's races. I had good starts in the 500m and I had good legs in the 1000m. It was a little bit different than the Montreal and Toronto World Cups, however, but that was to be expected. Maybe we'll feel a bit more tired this weekend, but that's a challenge among many others that we'll need to manage.”

Charles Hamelin, as did St-Gelais, finished first in his heats, also in the 500m (1) and 1000m events but on the men's side.

“In the 500m, I had better starts than I did in Toronto,” said Charles Hamelin. “In the 1000m, the overall level of my heats wasn't that high, but I had to stay alert to avoid falling into traps, and I was able to do that.”

François Hamelin also rose up to the challenge, as he is taking part in two 500m races in the same weekend for the first time since the start of his career. Friday, he finished first in his qualification heats and earned spots in the quarterfinals.

Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, QC, Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien, QC, and Patrick Duffy of Oakville, ON, are the other Canadian skaters who qualified directly for the final rounds of their respective individual events.

TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:   
500m (1) M
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-François Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday
-Pascal Dion: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Saturday

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

1500m M
-Samuel Girard: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Patrick Duffy: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
-Charle Cournoyer: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday

1500m W
-Valérie Maltais: 3rd in the heats but will take part in the semifinals Saturday as one of the three fastest third place skaters
-Kim Boutin: 3rd in the heats but will take part in the semifinals Saturday as one of the three fastest third place skaters
-Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: 4th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Saturday morning

500m (2) M
-François Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Patrick Duffy: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Pascal Dion: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday

500m (2) W
-Valérie Maltais: 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

1000m M
-Charles Hamelin: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Charle Cournoyer: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Samuel Girard: 4th in the heats and will take part in the repechage Sunday morning

1000m W
-Marianne St-Gelais: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Kasandra Bradette: 1st in the heats and will take part in the quarterfinals Sunday
-Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: 3rd in the heats but will take part in the semifinals Sunday as one of the three fastest third place skaters

Relay M
-Canada: 1st in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
(Charles Hamelin, François Hamelin, Pascal Dion, Charle Cournoyer)

Relay W
-Canada: 2nd in the heats and will take part in the semifinals Saturday
(Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Audrey Phaneuf, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier)

More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.
 
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