St-Gelais, Hamelin have strong starts to Olympic quadrennial

Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin swept the opening day events Friday at Speed Skating Canada’s Fall Short Track World Cups Selections at the Olympic Oval in Calgary.

St-Gelais of Saint-Felicien, Que., won the women’s 500m and 1500m while Hamelin, the 2014 Winter Olympic champion in the 1,500, captured both men’s races at those same distances.

St-Gelais edged Kasandra Bradette, who is from the same home town, at the line to win the 500. Valerie Maltais of Saguenay, QC - La Baie., was third. Maltais and Bradette swapped places in the 1,500 final.

“I had two good times in the (500) heats but in the final I used a strategy that almost backfired on me,” St-Gelais said after winning by .009 seconds.

“I wanted to lead the group but it almost cost me and I barely won. The experience gave me the win.”

St-Gelais said she came into the weekend lacking confidence in the 1,500 and was pleased it turned out so well.

“I would like to be better at this distance. It all starts by winning here and that will give me confidence.”

Samuel Girard of Ferland-Boileau, Que., took second in both men’s races while Patrick Duffy of Oakville, Ont., was third in both.

Hamelin was happy with his 500 efforts.

“It was my first competition since the world championships in March and I had three races under 41 (seconds). It went really well. I’m encouraged for my first race in a few months.”

The selections continue Saturday at 1 p.m. with the 1,000 followed by a second 1,500. Another 500 and 1,000 will go Sunday starting at 10 a.m. Admission is free.

The top two men and top two women overall at the selections will automatically qualify for the first four World Cups — Salt Lake City (Nov. 7-9), Montreal (Nov. 14-16), Shanghai, China (Dec. 12-14) and Seoul, Korea (Dec. 19-21).

The four remaining athletes will be chosen at the discretion of Speed Skating Canada’s Short Track High Performance Committee.

Here are today's results:
500m Men
1. Charles Hamelin, 0:40.534 (Sainte-Julie, QC)
2. Samuel Girard, 0:40.601 (Ferland-Boileau, QC)
3. Patrick Duffy, 0:40.810 (Oakville, ON)

500m Women
1. Marianne St-Gelais, 0:43.719 (Saint-Félicien, QC)
2. Kassandra Bradette, 0:43.728 (Saint-Félicien, QC)
3. Valérie Maltais, 0:43.788 (Saguenay, QC - La Baie)

1500m Men
1. Charles Hamelin, 2:12.833 (Sainte-Julie, QC)
2. Samuel Girard, 2:12.876 (Ferland-Boileau, QC)
3. Patrick Duffy, 2:13.423 (Oakville, ON)

1500m Women
1. Marianne St-Gelais, 2:32.432 (Saint-Félicien, QC)
2. Valérie Maltais, 2:32.500 (Saguenay, QC - La Baie)
3. Kassandra Bradette, 2:33.111 (Saint-Félicien, QC)

Full results: 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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For information:
Patrick Godbout
Communications & Media Relations Manager
Speed Skating Canada
Email: pgodbout@speedskating.ca
Phone: 514 213-9897
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
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Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC

Jeff MacKinnon   
Coordinator, Media and Communications Services – long track
Speed Skating Canada
Email: jmackinnon@speedskating.ca
Phone: 403-860-9525
Website: www.speedskating.ca 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SSC.PVC
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SSC_PVC