Samuel Girard & Kim Boutin a step ahead after the first day of 2018 Short Track Team Selections

Montreal, August 12, 2017 – Samuel Girard and Kim Boutin both find themselves a step ahead of the rest of the pack, Saturday, after they each won both races sheduled on the first day of the 2018 Short Track Team Selections that will continue until August 20 at Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal.

Samuel Girard, from Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, won the men's 1500m and 500m, while Kim Boutin, of Sherbrooke, QC, did the same on the women's side.

Girard and Boutin are therefore on top of their respective standings, and are in a good position to finish among the top three athletes overall for their gender, who will be selected on the provisional Olympic team following the Selections. Girard and Boutin both are looking to do well at the five-day competition in order to qualify for the Games for the first time in their careers.

Samuel Girard twice ahead of Charles Hamelin
Girard won the 500m after leading the race from start to finish, and he came out on top in the 1500m, earlier in the day, when he took advantage of the fact that Charles Hamelin was busy contending with Maxime Laoun, who was trying to overtake the veteran skater on the inside. Girard overtook Hamelin on the outside and made his way in front of the pack.

“I was looking for two top 3 results today in order to go get some points in the standings and take some pressure off,” said Samuel Girard. “Today's wins reflect the work that was done in training. Those were good races and the goal now is obviously to keep doing the same thing until the end of the competition.”

Girard had to change his approach in the 1500m final, which was recalled with about three laps to go and was done over after three skaters fell during the race. François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, was penalized and did not take part in the restart.

“I changed my strategy from A to Z because I had just spent a lot of energy,” noted Samuel Girard. “I adjusted by being more patient and waiting for the right time to overtake. I was moving up slowly but surely on the outside when the opportunity came about, so I went for it and it paid off.”

Girard is ahead of Charles Hamelin, from Saint-Julie, QC, in the overall standings after one day. The latter is second after finishing in second place in both of Saturday's races. Steven Dubois, a 20-year-old athlete from Lachenaie, QC, is third overall after taking fourth spot in the 500m and fifth place in the 1500m.

“The day went as I was hoping it would. On the first day of a competition like this, you want to get some points so you feel comfortable in the standings moving forward,” noted Charles Hamelin. “The goal is to finish among the top 3, so being second behind a skater like Sam, that's a situation I'm comfortable with. He deserved those two wins.”

“For my part, I'm in good form, which bodes well for the rest of the competition,” added the veteran skater who has won four Olympic medals over his career. “The key will be to manage my energy level well and to continue having a smart approach to racing.”

Charle Cournoyer, from Boucherville, QC, was third in the 500m after settling for 16th spot in the 1500m, having been penalized in the first round in that distance, while Pascal Dion of Montreal (Rivière-des-Prairies/Pointe-aux-Trembles borough), QC, was third in the 1500m A final.

Kim Boutin just ahead of Jamie Macdonald
Kim Boutin won the women's 1500m and 500m, each time just ahead Jamie Macdonald, from Fort St. James, B.C.

Both women's races gave way to the same top four result, Saturday, as each time Boutin won it ahead of Macdonald, Kasandra Bradette, third, and Valérie Maltais, fourth. Boutin, Macdonald and Bradette therefore took the top three spots in overall standings following the first day of the five-day Selections.

“The 500m allowed me to calm down and find my confort zone, after I felt quite nervous in the 1500m, as it sometimes happens when you skate in the first race of a competition,” pointed out Kim Boutin. “In the 500m, I was able to skate well and with confidence, in addition to focusing on my technique as I need to do to have success.”

“I'm really happy with my day. I felt nervous coming in, so it felt good to come up with two second spots,” said Macdonald, who is also vying to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in her career. “But it's a long competition, so we'll try to keep it consistent. And if I get a chance to win one, I'll take it!”

“It was really a good day for me,” said Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien, QC. “Especially in the 1500m, where I came up with a result that was better than I expected. After the summer of training I've had, I was expecting to come up with good results, but not necessarily top 3 results. I skated like I know I can.”

Marianne St-Gelais withdraws
Marianne St-Gelais from Saint-Félicien, QC, had to withdraw from the Selections after a fall in training Friday afternoon. St-Gelais has been sidelined after experiencing moderate symptoms due to a concussion. She will miss all the races scheduled over the five-day competition. To be able to take part in the 2018 Olympic Games, Marianne St-Gelais will ask for a bye, as stated in Speed Skating Canada’s 2018 Short Track Olympic Policies and Procedures.

“With Marianne not being there, it changes things for sure,” said Kim Boutin. “This means now that, no question, I'm gunning for first place overall.”

Over the competition, the 32 Canadian skaters involved – 16 men and 16 women – will each skate each distance (500m, 1000m and 1500m) three times for a total of nine races, and will therefore collect points in each outing. The final standings at the end of the 2018 Short Track Team Selections, as determined by the amount of points earned in the two best results out of three, in the two best distances out of three – therefore taking into account results from four races out of a total of nine – will decide who will be the first three male skaters and first three female skaters named to the provisional Olympic team. The two other athletes per gender will be selected following the analysis of exemption requests and by discretionary choice.

Racing will continue on Sunday, August 13 starting at 1:50 p.m., with the first 1000m of the competition and a second 1500m. The competition will resume on Wednesday, August 16 at 7:50 p.m., and then continue on Saturday, August 19 as of 1:50 p.m. and conclude on Sunday, August 20 as of 10:50 a.m. The complete schedule is available at www.speedskating.ca.
 
Tickets are available at the gate for $10 per day for events to be held August 13, 16 and 18, and for $15 on Sunday, August 20. A five-day pass is also available for $40. Admission is free for kids 12 years of age and under.

Webstreamed on four platforms
The 2018 Short Track Team Selections are webstreamed live on four web platforms: Canada’s Olympic Network CBC/Radio-Canada carries the action live online at cbcsports.ca and ici.radio-canada.ca/sports, as does Radio-Canada’s broadcast partner for the PyeongChang Games, RDS (rds.ca/courtepiste). The races are also live on Speed Skating Canada’s Facebook page (facebook.com/SSC.PVC).

The schedule as well as full details are available at: http://www.speedskating.ca/.

About Speed Skating Canada
“To Challenge and Inspire Canada to Thrive through the power of Speed Skating”

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.

Speed Skating Canada would like to thank its sponsors:

Premium partner: Intact Insurance
Funding partners: Government of Canada (Sport Canada), Own The Podium, Canadian Olympic Committee
Official On-Ice High Performance Apparel: Li-Ning
Long Track Team Sponsor: KIA
Official Suppliers: Auclair, USANA
Sport Development Partners: Winsport Canada, Calgary’s Olympic Oval, University of Calgary, Institut national du sport du Québec, Government of Quebec, Canadian Sport Institute-Calgary, City of Montreal, Quebec City, Conseil du sport de haut niveau de Québec

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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