Samuel Girard leads Canada to a four-medal tally at Toronto's World Cup ISU Short Track

Nineteen-year-old skater Samuel Girard found himself involved in a Canadian 1-2 finish for the second week in a row, Saturday, as he won the first of two men's 500m events set for the weekend at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating held in Toronto.

One week after finishing behind Charles Hamelin in the 1000m raced at last week's Montreal World Cup, Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, Qc) was the first skater to cross the finish line in Saturday's 500m race at MasterCard Centre, earning him the gold medal ahead of his teammate Sasha (Alexander) Fathoullin (Calgary, AB), who collected silver.

“It's pretty cool to see Canada go 1-2 last week and again today,” said Girard. “We feel like Canada deserves to be right there with the top countries, and it's great to be able to show it. And it was great to do it in Canada, in front of a crowd that was cheering us on.”

“I felt I could have caught up with (Girard), but I was mostly focusing on the skater behind me and on finishing on the podium, and also on doing my best until the finish line,” said Fathoullin. “I'm quite happy with second place. If we were able to go 1-2 all the way through the race, it's because of all the work we did in practice.”

Samuel Girard, who is taking part in his second season at the World Cup level, earned his first career medal, a silver, on the circuit last week in Montreal. Saturday's medal is therefore his first gold.

“My first lap was quite fast, and after that I just raced my race, and followed the plan,” said Girard.

Fathoullin, who at 20 years old is making his World Cup debut this season, won his first career international medal at the senior level.

“I tried not to aim too high in terms of expectations, but I'm so proud of my first two World Cups so far, and I'm so proud of the team,” he said. “Because quite honestly, without the team, I wouldn't have been able to do this. They were by my side every step of the way.”

The two young skaters helped Canada collect four medals in all, Saturday, on the first day of finals in Toronto, which is hosting a speed skating World Cup event for the very first time.

Marianne St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, Qc) and François Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, Qc) both picked up a bronze medal, in the women's and men's 1500m, respectively.

St-Gelais now has three medals so far this season, after earning gold in the 500m and silver in the 1000m at the first World Cup stage, held in Montreal.

“Not every skater at this level can be on the podium in all distances, so I'm really proud of that,” said St-Gelais. “I worked really hard on that this summer, and I knew it would pay off. I felt really great out there on the ice, it was a really good day for me.”

François Hamelin collected Saturday his second individual medal in two World Cups, after a stretch of over three seasons without one. He won silver in the 500m in last season's last stage. His previous medal dated back to the 2010-2011 season. Saturday's medal was his first ever in a World Cup 1500m event.

“After a lot of fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishes in the 1500m over the years, I broke through the wall at last, I'm on the podium, so I'm really happy,” said the 28-year-old veteran skater. “It shows that I'm still part of the elite. This medal was well-deserved because it was a high-level final, without any falls or disqualifications.”

Girard and Fathoullin… but not Charles Hamelin
Samuel Girard won the first of the weekend's two 500m races, finishing ahead of Fathoullin and France's Sébastien Lepape.

Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, Qc) also took part in the 500m event, but his day ended in the quarterfinals as he was penalized for a contact involving China's Wu Dajing.

In the women's 1500m, Marianne St-Gelais earned bronze, behind South Korea's Choi Minjeong and Shim Suk Hee, and just ahead of Canadian teammate Valérie Maltais.

“There was a lot of action in that race, but I stayed well-positioned all the way through, and made sure I would be right there at the end,” said Maltais. “I felt great towards the end, Marianne was in front of me and I tried to overtake her, but at the same time I didn't want to make a costly mistake at the expense of a teammate. Fourth is fine, I had a great race, and it's still early in the season.”

In the men's 1500m, François Hamelin finished third behind South Korea's Kwak Yoon-Gy and Sjinkie Snegt of the Netherlands, and ahead of his teammate Charle Cournoyer, fourth. The other Canadian in the eight-man A final was Patrick Duffy (Oakville, ON), who finished sixth.

François Hamelin ended up on the podium after going through the repechage heats in the morning.

“I didn't feel very good Friday, but today I woke up on the right foot and I felt like I could go out and attack,” he said. “It was long day, but I went about it one race at a time, looking to give myself the best chances to go on to the following round.”

Kasandra Bradette (Saint-Félicien, Qc) was the top Canadien in the women's 500m raced Saturday, as she won the B final and finished fifth overall.

Both Canadian relays finished first of their heat in Saturday's semifinals, to each earn their spot in Sunday's A finals. Skaters who took part in Saturday's relay races were Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette and Audrey Phaneuf (Saint-Hyacinthe, Qc) on the women's side, as well as Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Samuel Girard and Patrick Duffy on the men's side.

Ten members of the Canadian team will be taking part in Sunday's races at MasterCard Centre. In the second 500m event of the weekend, Marianne St-Gelais, Kim Boutin and Audrey Phaneuf will be skating in the quarterfinals on the women's side, while Charles Hamelin and Samuel Girard will be in the men's quarterfinals. Patrick Duffy will go through repechage heats in that distance on Sunday morning. In the 1000m, Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette and Jamie MacDonald earned a spot in the women's quarterfinals, while Charle Cournoyer and Sasha Fathoullin have done the same on the men's side.

Repechage heats will kick off at 9:10 am at MasterCard Centre, while elimination 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 are 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 are 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 Sunday races 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 Sunday, November 8 from 3 pm to 4 pm (Eastern Time), and also on its web site at cbcsports.ca 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 Sunday.

TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
500m (1) M
-Samuel Girard: gold medal (overall ranking: 1)
-Sasha Fathoullin: silver medal (overall ranking: 2)
-Charles Hamelin: penalty in quarterfinals and eliminated (overall ranking: 16)

1500m W
-Marianne St-Gelais: bronze medal (overall ranking: 3)
-Valérie Maltais: 4th in the A final (overall ranking: 4)
-Kim Boutin: 6th in semi-finals and eliminated (overall ranking: 16)

1500m M
-François Hamelin: bronze medal (overall ranking: 3)
-Charle Cournoyer: 4th in the A final (overall ranking: 4)
-Patrick Duffy: 6th in the A final (overall ranking: 6)

500m (1) W
-Kasandra Bradette: 1st in the B Final (overall ranking: 5)
-Jamie MacDonald: 3rd in quarterfinals and eliminated (overall ranking: 9)
-Audrey Phaneuf: penalty in the heats and eliminated (overall ranking: 35)
   
Relay W
Canada: 1st in the semi-finals and will take part in the A final Sunday
(Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Kasandra Bradette, Audrey Phaneuf)

Relay M
Canada: 1st in the semi-finals and will take part in the A final Sunday
(Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer, Patrick Duffy, 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.

- 30 -

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