Six Canadian Short Track Speed Skaters Ready for the World Junior Championships

Six of Canada’s best junior short track speed skaters arrived in Mladà Boleslav, Czech Republic, Sunday, to compete in this weekend’s World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships.

Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, ON), Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, QC), Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC), Vincent André (Montréal, QC), Nicolas Bean (Ottawa, ON) and Maxime Fortin (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) will all be skating for Canada, under the direction of coaches Jonathon Cavar (Calgary, AB) and former olympian Éric Bédard (Montréal, QC).

Blondin pre-qualified to skate in the event back in November, when she showed a very strong performance at the National Team Selection in Calgary. She qualified for the third and fourth stops of the ISU World Cups in short track speed skating, earning a berth for the Canadian Team at the World Junior Championships. A promising 16 year old skater, Blondin competed once before at these championships, two years ago in Serbia and Montenegro. She then won the bronze medal in the relay. The young skater has had a good start to her season this year, winning her first medals on the World Cup circuit (bronze in the relay at the Saguenay World Cup, gold in the relay at the Montreal World Cup) and showing she was already competitive on the individual side, finishing 4th in the 1500m in Saguenay, and then repeating the feat in Montreal.

Maltais, Lambert, André, Bean and Fortin all qualified by posting the best results at the Canadian Junior Championships in Prince George, BC, in early December. Valérie Maltais, Valérie Lambert and Nicolas Bean are all members of the National Development Team for short track speed skating.

Bean and Maltais both participated in the 2006 World Junior Championships in Romania. Bean won the bronze with the relay team, while Maltais’ best performance also came in the relay with a 4th place finish.

Competition starts on Friday, January 12, and goes through to Sunday, January 14. Last year, Canadian skaters had captured three medals: Jessica Gregg won the bronze in the 500m, François Hamelin the bronze in the 1000m and the men’s relay team captured the silver medal. Visit www.speedskating.ca for results.