Silver goes to men's relay & bronze to Charles Hamelin on last day of short track World Cup in Seoul

The Canadian men's relay confirmed its return to top form and Charles Hamelin added to his medal haul for the 2014-15 season, Sunday, as the former won the silver medal and the latter collected a bronze in the men's 500m race on the last day of the ISU short track speed skating World Cup held in Seoul.

World Cup rookie Kim Boutin, for her part, came up with another personal best, as the 20-year-old Sherbrooke native earned 4th place in the women's 1500m event.

The men's relay collected a silver medal to earn its second podium in as many weekends, after picking up bronze last week in Shanghai, China, and putting end to a drought that had lasted close to a year, i.e. since December 21, 2013. Sunday, Charles Hamelin, Patrick Duffy, Charle Cournoyer and Samuel Girard finished in second place with a time of seven minutes 1.373 seconds, to end up behind the Netherlands (7:01.210) and ahead of China (7:01.524).

“It was our best relay race in a long time,” said Charles Hamelin. “We executed our game plan perfectly. This will give us plenty of confidence heading into the rest of the season.”

In the men's 500m, the veteran skater from Sainte-Julie, Que., was third in the final with a time of 41.583 seconds, to end up on the podium along with South Korea's Seo Yi Ru (41.436) and Dutch skater Sjinkie Knegt (41.549). He was able to do it in spite of a bruise to the right ankle he sustained while racing in the semi-final.

“I was skating in front when I hit a block and lost my balance. When I brought back my left skate under me, I hit my right ankle,” expalined Hamelin. “The bruise hurt a bit, so I had it checked by the doctor to make sure there wasn't anything serious, and he gave me the green light.”

“In the final, I was 4th at the starting line, which is an unusual position for me, but I was able to protect my spot and I moved up to third. The Dutch skater overtook me and I slipped to 4th place, but there was some contact up front and towards the end, I was able to overtake the Chinese skater (Wu Dajing – 41.814) to get back to third. Overall, I'm happy with my day in the 500m.”

Charles Hamelin now has four individual medals this season. Sunday's medal is his first in a 500m event in 2014-15. He collected a gold medal in the 1000m in Shanghai, last week, and two silvers in the 1500m, in China and at the season's first stage in Salt Lake City.

The two other Canadians in Sunday's 500m event, Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., and François Hamelin, from Sainte-Julie, Que., were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

A personal best for Kim Boutin
Boutin finished the women's 1500m in 2:31.857, to find herself an eyelash away from a podium as South Korean skater Noh Do Hee won bronze in 2:31.848. Fourth place is a personal best for the Sherbrooke native in an individual race, as she was skating this weekend in only her fourth World Cup.

“I felt relaxed in the semi-final, I was able to pick a lot of information and manage my race well, and then I was able to stay alert during the entire final,” said Boutin. “I skated well, I made my moves at the right time.”

Boutin also came up with a personal best on Saturday, when she finished 5th in the women's 1000m. The 20-year-old athlete admitted that these two back-to-back top-5 results are a pleasant surprise.

“I had some technical aspects I needed to work on at this World Cup, so I had no expectations in terms of results,” she said. “This will give me a lot of confidence, and I hope I'll continue to skate in a lot of A finals in the future!”

Also in Sunday's 1500m, Montreal's Namasthée Harris-Gauthier was 4th in the B final, good for 10th place overall, while Joanie Gervais, of Saguenay, Que., was eliminated in the repechage rounds.

In the other women's individual race of the day, the 500m, Kasandra Bradette and Marianne St-Gelais, both from Saint-Félicien, Que., respectively took 2nd and 3rd place in the B final to finish 6th and 7th overall.

St-Gelais lost a chance to collect her 4th medal in a 500m race this season when she fell in the semi-final while trying to overtake an opponent.

“It's not a race to forget, I still was able to work one some things. Sometimes in speed skating, it's make or break and this time, it broke,” noted St-Gelais, who remains satisfied with her season so far.

The veteran skater has six individual medals in four World Cup stages in 2014-15, i.e. three in the 500m and three in the 1000m. She won silver in Saturday's 1000m race in Seoul.

“It's a good season so far, I'm pretty satisfied,” she said. “The goal, this fall, was to work on some things in the 1000m, and not just be content to skate in front, and to try some things the 500m as well, where we worked on overtaking, which is not easy for such a short distance. I can't say I always felt at ease, but it's a good start nonetheless, and we'll pull everything together for the second half of the season and the World Championships.”

The Seoul World Cup marks the end of the fall portion of the 2014-15 schedule. The Canadian skaters will now have a break until they kick off the European part of the season, Feb. 6-8, 2015, in Dresden, Germany. The World Championships will close the season on the international scene, March 13-15, in Moscow.

Sunday’s other results
In Sunday's other races, the women's relay, comprised of Audrey Phaneuf, from Boucherville, Que., as well as Boutin, Gervais and Harris-Gauthier, won the B final, while Charle Cournoyer, from Boucherville, was the top Canadian in the men's 3000m with a 6th-place finish.

Toronto's William Preudhomme followed in 7th place in the 3000m, while Patrick Duffy, from Oakville, Ont., was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

This was the first time since the 2005-06 season that a 3000m race was on the World Cup program. It was included as a test event to see if it would attract fan interest and should be raced on a more regular basis. Final ranking in the 3000m, this weekend, allowed skaters to collect points in 1500m overall standings.

TODAY'S CANADIAN RESULTS:
500m M
-Charles Hamelin: bronze medal (final ranking: 3)
-Samuel Girard: 3rd in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 11)
-François Hamelin: 3rd in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 12)

3000m M
-Charle Cournoyer: 6th in the A final (final ranking: 6)
-William Preudhomme: 7th in the A final (final ranking: 7)
-Patrick Duffy: 5th in the semi-finals and eliminated (final ranking: 10)

Men’s relay
Silver medal (Charles Hamelin, Patrick Duffy, Charle Cournoyer, Samuel Girard, other rmedalist: François Hamelin)

500m W
-Kasandra Bradette: 2nd in the B final (final ranking: 6)
-Marianne St-Gelais: 3rd in the B final (final ranking: 7)
-Audrey Phaneuf: 4th in the quarterfinals and eliminated (final ranking: 15)

1500m W
-Kim Boutin: 4th in the A final (final ranking: 4)
-Namasthée Harris-Gauthier: 4th in the B final (final ranking: 10)
-Joanie Gervais: 2nd in the repechage semi-finals and eliminated (final ranking: 20)

Women’s relay
1st in the B final (Audrey Phaneuf, Kim Boutin, Joanie Gervais, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier)
More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.

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 13,000 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 sponsor Intact Insurance, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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Jeff MacKinnon   
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