Samuel Girard wins gold & Marianne St-Gelais takes silver at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating stage held in Calgary

Calgary, November 5, 2016 – Samuel Girard won gold in the men's 500m and Marianne St-Gelais came up with silver in that distance on the women's side, Saturday, at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating stage held until Sunday at Calgary's Olympic Oval. Meanwhile, 22-year-old skater Pascal Dion from Montreal, QC, who is skating in third career World Cup, earned his best result ever by finishing fourth in the men's 1500m.

In the first of two 500m events slated over the weekend, Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC) finished first, ahead of China's Dajing Wu by close to a tenth of a second, and of Russia's Victor An, who were respectively second and third, to kick off the 2016-17 World Cup season on a perfect note. The 20-year-old Canadian skater therefore picked up his second career gold medal at the World Cup level. His first came at the second stage of the 2015-2016 World Cup season, last fall in Toronto.

“A gold medal, that's what I was aiming for before the race, and I really wanted it, so I'm super happy to have won it,” said Samuel Girard. “It'll be a big boost for the rest of the season.”

Samuel Girard's time of 40.125 seconds was two tenths of a second away from the world record. Girard said that although he came close to the mark, he did not have it in mind when he skated in the final.

“I almost did it, but I wasn't thinking about the record at all. Towards the end of the race, I was mostly looking to protect my lead,” he said.

It was a rare occasion where Samuel Girard did not have Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC) by his side in the final. Hamelin, who is ranked second in the world in the 500m after winning three gold medals in that distance last season on the World Cup circuit, was eliminated at the quarterfinal. Hamelin put his skate on a block on the ice and fell, and was unable to finish the race.

“These things happen, it's a shame but you have to live with it. I stepped on a block during my fourth turn, causing me to fall. I must now forget the 500m to better focus on Sunday's 1000m,” said Charles Hamelin, who showed a strong capacity to bounce back last winter as he never went through a World Cup stage without winning at least one medal.

“It's one of my strengths, I'd say,” he added. “After a disappointing race, I'm able to come back strong in the race that follows. So I need to focus on tomorrow's 1000m.”

William Preudhomme (Toronto, ON) was eliminated early in the 500m (1) after settling for third place in his heat at the quarterfinal stage.

An eventful women's 500m
During an eventful A final in the first women's 500m event of the weekend, Marianne St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, QC) had to settle for a silver medal behind China's Kexin Fan, who won gold, after the Canadian veteran skater held first place during the first portion of the race. Kasandra Bradette (Saint-Félicien, QC) had an impact on the race when she attempted overtaking Italy's Arianna Fontana, and Bradette was penalized for it.

“It was a pretty tactical race and I told myself that I would need to try something at some point,” said Kasandra Bradette. “I saw that Arianna Fontana was always leaving an opening at entry, so I told myself that I needed to take advantage of that. I tried overtaking her late, but unfortunately it didn't work out as I had hoped. At least I tried.”

“I had a very good start, I found myself skating in front and I wanted to manage the race from there. Everything was going well until Kasandra (Bradette) tried a risky move on Arianna Fontana, and Arianna brought me down with her as she fell,” said Marianne St-Gelais, who reached the podium in each of her 500m races last season on the World Cup circuit, earning gold twice. “I'm disappointed because I'm convinced I could have won that race from out front, I showed good things before I fell. But a second-place finish is still satisfying, the season is still young and there will be more races.”

Pascal Dion less than a second away from a bronze
In the men's 1500m, Pascal Dion (Montreal, Rivière-des-Prairies/Pointe-aux-Trembles borough, QC) came less than a second away from winning his first-ever individual medal at the World Cup level, as he finished fourth in Saturday's A final in that distance, behind Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt, who was first, Israel's Vladislav Bykanov, who came in second, and Russia's Semen Elistratov, who was third.

That is Dion's best-ever individual result at the senior level, which he achieved in his third career World Cup. He finished seventh on two occasions last season, in the 500m at the Nagoya World Cup, in Japan, and then in the 1500m in Shanghai, China.

“I'm a little disappointed because with three laps to go, I was third when the two skaters in front of me fell, and I had to jump over one of them, which made me lose all my speed and allowed three skaters to overtake me,” explained Pascal Dion, who was advanced to the A final in spite of a fall in the semifinals, because his fall was caused by an opponent while he was in a position to qualify.

“Considering my initial goal was to reach the A final, and that I came up with my best-ever result in my third World Cup, I'm more than satisfied,” he added. “Things are looking up!”

François Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC) was second in the 1500m B final, good for 9th place overall. Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, QC) saw his run in the 1500m end at the semifinal stage when he finished fifth in his heat.

In the women's 1500m, Kim Boutin (Sherbrooke, QC) was the top Canadian with a 6th-place finish in the A final.

“I'm a little disappointed with my race in the final, but I had to give it my all in the semifinal,” pointed out Kim Boutin. “I would have needed a better start (in the final), but I didn't have any legs left. Still, it's not too bad a start to the season.”

Marie-Eve Drolet (Saguenay, Chicoutimi borough, QC), who this weekend is skating in her first international competition since the spring of 2014 after taking time off to give birth to her first child in January of 2015, won the women's 1500m B final to end up 7th overall.

Jamie Macdonald (Fort St. James, B.C.) was eliminated from the women's 1500m at the repechage semifinal stage on Saturday morning.

In the women's relay, Canadians Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, La Baie borough, QC), Marie-Ève Drolet and Jamie Macdonald finished first in their semifinal heat to earn a spot in Sunday's A final. They came close to breaking the Canadian record (4:07.308) by registering a time of 4:07.614.

The men's relay, comprised of Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard, Charle Cournoyer and Pascal Dion in Saturday's semifinal, also reached the A final by finishing first in its heat.

A second 500m event will take place on Sunday, followed by the 1000m and the relay finals. All 12 members of the Canadian World Cup team will be skating, as they all earned spots in Sunday's final rounds during Friday's qualification rounds.

The final rounds will kick off at 1 PM local time at Calgary's Olympic Oval. In the morning, the repechage heats will start at 8:40 AM. Tickets are still available at www.universe.com/calgary2016. Furthermore, spectators will also be able to enjoy different activities throughout the weekend in the Fan Zone.
 
Live streaming coverage of the finals will be available beginning at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) at cbcsports.ca and via the CBC Sports app.

A full schedule is available on Speed Skating Canada’s website at www.speedskating.ca and at cbcsports.ca.
 
More details are available on Speed Skating Canada's website at www.speedskating.ca/fr/calgary2016.

TODAY’S CANADIAN RESULTS

500m (1) W
Marianne St-Gelais: silver medal (final ranking: 2)
Kasandra Bradette: penalty in the A final (final ranking: 4)
Valérie Maltais: penalty in the heats and eliminated (final ranking: 38)

500m (1) M
Samuel Girard: gold medal (final ranking: 1)
William Preudhomme: 3rd in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 12)
Charles Hamelin: felt in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 19)

1500m W
Kim Boutin: 6th in the A final (final ranking : 6)
Marie-Ève Drolet: 1st in the B final (final ranking : 7)
Jamie Macdonald: felt in the Repechage semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 25)

1500m M
Pascal Dion: 4th in the A final (final ranking : 4)
François Hamelin: 2nd in the B final (final rankig : 9)
Charle Cournoyer: 5th in the semifinals and eliminated (final ranking: 14)

Women’s Relay
1st in semifinals and will take part in the A final Sunday
(Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Kim Boutin, Kasandra Bradette)

Men’s Relay
1st in semifinals and will take part in the A final Sunday
(Charles Hamelin, Pascal Dion, Charle Cournoyer, Samuel Girard)

About the 2016 ISU Short Track World Cup in Calgary
The 2016 ISU World Cup in Short Track Speed Skating, to be held Nov. 4-6 at Calgary's Olympic Oval, will feature the top short track speed skaters in the world at the first stage of a season that will include six World Cup weekends.

The organizing committee for the 2016 ISU Short Track Speed Skating World Cup in Calgary would like to thank its partners and sponsors, including Alberta Sport Connection, Intact Insurance, Sport Canada, The City of Calgary and Tourism Calgary.

More details and tickets are available at http://www.speedskating.ca/fr/calgary2016.

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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

Kerry Dankers
Long Track Program and Communications Coordinator
Speed Skating Canada
Email: kdankers@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-589-8960
Website: www.speedskating.ca  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC    

Ryan Ohashi
Communications and Community Events Specialist
Olympic Oval | University of Calgary
2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
P: 403.220.2213 | C: 403.471.5784 | E: ryan.ohashi@ucalgary.ca