Speed Skating Canada introduces its first team members for the 2017 ISU World Short Track Championships

Montreal, January 15, 2017 – Marianne St-Gelais, Kim Boutin and Marie-Ève Drolet on the women's side, as well as Charle Cournoyer, Samuel Girard and Charles Hamelin on the men's team, were the first Canadian skaters to earn spots for the 2017 ISU World Short Track Championships following their performances at the Canadian Senior Championships, which ended on Sunday in Montreal.
 
St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, QC), Boutin (Sherbrooke, QC) and Drolet (Saguenay, Chicoutimi borough, QC) respectively finished first, second and third in the combined standings which included results for the Canadian Senior Championships as well as those from the Fall World Cup Selections and the Canadian Open National Qualifier. Cournoyer (Boucherville, QC), Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC) and Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC), in that order, did the same on the men's side.

Canada will send a team of five women and five men at the ISU World Short Track Championships, which will be held March 10-12 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, as well as at the ISU World Cup #5 in Dresden, Germany, February 3-5. Canada will not take part in the sixth and last World Cup stage of the season in Minsk, Belarus.

By taking the top two women's spots, St-Gelais and Boutin also earned berths in individual races at the World Championships, as did Cournoyer and Girard on the men's side. In Rotterdam, Canada will have three representatives on the men's team and three on the women's squad for the individual races.

The skaters who will be awarded the vacant spots on the Canadian team, for the upcoming international competitions as well as for the individual races slated for the World Championships, will be announced at a later date.

A third straight national title for Marianne St-Gelais
At the 2017 Canadian Senior Championships, Marianne St-Gelais earned her third straight title as national champion. Over the weekend, she won the first races scheduled – Friday's 1500m followed by Saturday's 500m.

“I'm very happy. I applied all the right things in preparation for the World Cups and the World Championships,” said St-Gelais. “That's the goal we set since the start, which was to be at the World Championships and try to pick up where I left off last year. It bodes well for the rest of the season!”
 
Kim Boutin prevented St-Gelais from repeating her sweep of the Olympic events, which the latter succeeded in doing in 2016. On Sunday, Boutin skated to victory in the 1000m as well as in the 3000m.

“I was ready to attack that 1000m race. I told myself that it was going to be my race and that I was going to win,” said Kim Boutin.

“My goal this weekend was a top-2 result in each of my distances, to race well, and to make sure that I did things with which I felt comfortable,” added Boutin, who finished second in the 1500m and third in the 500m over the weekend.

“It shows that I still have some things to work on,” said Marianne St-Gelais. “Kim (Boutin) had a superb race. It's tough to deny her that win. I was faster, by I wasn't able to overtake her. There are things I will need to work on in training leading up to the World Championships.”
 
Boutin will be taking part in her second career World Championships. She was the top skater on the Canadian women's team at the 2015 competition in Moscow, Russia. Last year, the 22-year-old skater did not skate in the Canadian Senior Championships and, consequently, could not contend for the World Championships.

“I was aiming for balance this season,” said Boutin. “Since I came back, I found that balance and it's a good feeling. The World Championships will be a new challenge. I gained some experience at the World Cups and it will be interesting to see how I will be able to apply that at the World Championships.”
 
After giving birth to her first child, a girl, in January of 2015, Olympic medalist Marie-Ève Drolet will return to the World Championships for the first time since March of 2014.

“I'm quite satisfied, that was the goal! I'm really happy with what I've accomplished and I can't wait to go to the World Championships,” said Drolet. “I wasn't able to qualify last year and it was a big disappointment. It was a bit understandable, though, after giving birth to my daughter. But my goal this season was to earn a spot. I was confident after finishing third overall at the Fall World Cup Selections. All the effort I put in paid off.”

“My bronze medal in the 1000m helped me a lot in terms of points and moving up in the standings,” explained Drolet, who was fifth before the racing started on Sunday, after finishing sixth in Friday's 1500m and ninth in Saturday's 500m.

In the 3000m, an event only available to the 16 best skaters per gender according to points earned in the first three events of the weekend, Boutin won the women's race ahead of Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montreal, QC, and St-Gelais.
 
Charle Cournoyer earns first national title
On the men's side, Charle Cournoyer earned his first title as national champion, based on winning gold in the 500m, the 1500m and the 3000m, and silver in Sunday's 1000m.

Cournoyer therefore won three of the four titles that were contested at this competition.

“My goal was to be at the World Championships, and I was able to clinch my spot following the semifinals in the 1000m,” pointed out Cournoyer.

Cournoyer will skate in the individual races at the World Championships for the first time since the 2014 edition. He was slown down during the 2014-2015 season by a shoulder operation and a foot fracture, which led to his absence from the individual distances at the 2015 competition.

“It's proof of all the efforts I made over the last few years to really improve tactically and technically, and to improve overall, and that I'm getting better. It's good to see that the results are there after all the work I've put in,” said Cournoyer, who won a bronze medal in the 500m at the 2014 Olympic Games. “I gave it everything I had to make it happen and I'm ready to take on the last part of the season in order to perform well at the World Championships.”
 
Similarly to what Kim Boutin did on the women's side, Samuel Girard deprived Cournoyer from a sweep by winning Sunday's 1000m.

“I was well-prepared and ready to battle coming into the 1000m and I collected the maximum amount of points. I was in charge for almost every one of my races from start to finish. I was ready for today and it paid off,” said Girard who, after Sunday's races, found himself in second place overall, ahead of Charles Hamelin, to earn the second of the three spots available for the individual distances.

“Qualifying for the World Championships was my number one goal this weekend. Although I didn't skate in the 500m A final, I was able to earn some points, to move up and to stay consistent,” explained the 20-year-old athlete, who will be skating in his third World Championships. Last year, Girard won silver in the 1000m held in Seoul, South Korea.

Charles Hamelin did not seem too disappointed about giving up the national championship title for the first time since 2013, except in 2014 since there were no Canadian Senior Championships because it was an Olympic year.

“It's a positive result nonetheless. I had some good races and I reached the final round in every distance. I gave myself a chance to win in all the distances”, pointed out Charles Hamelin. “Certain unforeseen events had an impact, like my penalty in the 1500m, the 500m that was done over; and in the 1000m, I tried to do what I wanted but I wasn't able to.”

“My goal was still to qualify for the World Championships. I'm happy for Charle (Cournoyer) and Samuel (Girard). I'm happy to be part of this team and I will go to the Worlds with all the confidence that I've gained over the last few competitions.”

“What I take away as well, it's that the athletes who were here this weekend skated at a higher level than what we've seen in past years, so it's a great sign of things to come for the team.”
 
In the 3000m, William Preudhomme of Toronto, ON, won the race ahead of Charle Cournoyer. Patrick Duffy of Oakville, ON, finished third.
 
More information, including the full results, are available at Speed Skating Canada's website at 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 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 and Samsung, as well as our funding partners, the Government of Canada, Own the Podium, and WinSport Canada.

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