The road to the 2018 Games for Canada's short track speed skaters starts this Saturday as Olympic Selections kick off in Montreal

The competition will be presented live on CBC Sports, Radio-Canada, RDS and Facebook web platforms

Montreal, August 9, 2017 – The road to the 2018 Olympics Games will kick off this Saturday at Montreal's Maurice-Richard Arena for Canada's short track speed skaters, with the start of the 2018 Short Track Team Selections which will lead to the formation of the Canadian squad that will compete at the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Over the five days of competition, set to take place over nine days and two weekends starting this Saturday, August 12, and finishing on Sunday, August 20, 32 Canadian skaters – 16 men and 16 women – will be in action.

Each athlete will skate each distance (500m, 1000m and 1500m) three times for a total of nine races, and will therefore collect points in each outing. The final standings at the end of the 2018 Short Track Team Selections, as determined by the amount of points earned in the two best results out of three, in the two best distances out of three – therefore taking into account results from four races out of a total of nine – will decide who will be the first skaters named to the provisional Olympic team. The other athletes for a total of five per gender will be selected following the analysis of bye requests and by discretionary choice.

Consistency will be the key
Skaters who have won Olympic medals in the past, such as Marianne St-Gelais, Valérie Maltais, Charles Hamelin and Charle Cournoyer, will be among the ones to watch at the Selections. They will all have a similar approach, in the sense that they will look for consistency over the competition. They will try to win as many races as possible, but not necessarily at all costs.

“I will go for the win in all my races, but above all because that's the best way to earn the maximum amount of points in the standings. I don't intend to battle as desperately as I've done in other circumstances in the past, especially when the time is right to be smart and settle for a second-place finish instead of risking it it all – and lose it all – when trying to go for first place,” said Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, who has won three Olympic medals over her career, including silver in the relay at the 2014 Games and silver in the 500m in 2001. “I know I can still win races, but I also know that the competition will be as fierce as ever. The goal, therefore, is to finish among the top three in the standings, which will give me the best chance to skate in all three distances at the Games.”

“I'm looking to finish among the top 3 and skate in the maximum possible of races at the Games,” said Valérie Maltais of Saguenay (La Baie borough), QC, who was at the 2010 and 2014 Games, winning silver in the relay in Sochi. “For sure, I'll give it my all, but it's also important to be smart about it. It's a long competition, so you can afford to make some mistakes, but not too many. Consistency is the key. I'll be putting more pressure on myself in the 1000m and 1500m distances, but I know I can also do well in the 500m.”

“Finishing in the top 3 remains my number 1 objective and I will also try to skate smart during races, for instance by saving my energy to make sure I still have some until the very end, because I know the last race on the last day promises to be a crucial one,” noted Charles Hamelin, who will be looking to earn his ticket to his fourth career Olympic Games, after having won four Olympic medals since the 2006 Games in Turin, including gold medals in the 1500m in 2014 and the 500m in 2010. “Competitions such as these require a lot of energy and the key is to be consistent in order to finish as high as possible in the standings after nine races.”

Charle Cournoyer, from Boucherville, QC, who won bronze in the 500m at his first career Olympic Games in 2014, is entering for his part his second Olympic Selections with more assurance.

“I have more experience now, and after skating in Olympic Selections for the first time four years ago, I feel more confident in what I'm doing, I know myself a lot better, so it's very positive,” said the 26-year-old athlete.

Marianne St-Gelais and Charles Hamelin have also adopted a more positive approach for these Selections.

“Before, I felt the pressure (as the favourite), but not this time,” said St-Gelais. “I realized it was pointless to think that way.”

“Training has gone well, the last few adjustments on the blades and on technical aspects have been made… I feel some stress, but not like at past Olympic Selections,” said Hamelin. “It's a good kind of stress and that's a good sign. I just need to go out on the ice and show what I can do.”

Looking to take part in their first Games
For their part, Samuel Girard, of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC, Kim Boutin, of Sherbrooke, QC, and Jamie Macdonald, from Fort St. James, B.C., will all be looking to earn their ticket to their first-ever Olympic Games.

“I'm coming into the Olympic Selections the same way I do for the yearly World Cup Selections,” noted Samuel Girard. “Yes, the stakes are higher, but I try to focus on the same things, such as the aspects I need to work on and to execute well in each race in order to have success.”

“I don't have the impression I have things to prove. I know what I'm capable of doing, and I will try to continue at the same pace as I have so far,” said the 21-year-old athlete, who has had success at the international level, having notably won a silver medal in each of the last two World Championships.

After having won five individual medals on the World Cup circuit and finishing fourth in the 1000m at the 2015 World Championships, Kim Boutin knows she has a tough task ahead of her.

“I think it'll be a wider battle than just Marianne and me,” said Boutin. “There are several girls at the same level. It'll be a very tight contest among the top-5.”

Jamie Macdonald, 22, could find her way in that group after coming up with her first two individual medals on the World Cup circuit, last winter.

“I have pretty high expectations for myself, training has gone well and my goal is to make it to every final at the Selections,” said Macdonald. “It's a long competition, I need to take it one step at a time, and try not to let myself get overwhelmed by it all. I'm excited for this chance to go to the Games. It's definitely my goal.”

Racing will take place on Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, August 13 starting at 1:50 p.m., on Wednesday, August 16 at 7:50 p.m., on Saturday, August 19 as of 1:50 p.m. and on Sunday, August 20 as of 10:50 a.m. During the first weekend, a 1500m and a 500m will take place on the Saturday, while a 1000m and the second 1500m of the competition will follow on the Sunday. The complete schedule is available at www.speedskating.ca.
 
The 5-day pass is available online at www.speedskating.ca until August 11 at a price of $25 (plus applicable fees). After that, it will be possible to buy tickets at the gate for $10 per day for events to be held August 12, 13, 16 and 18, and for $15 on Sunday, August 20. The five-day pass will also be available at the gate for $40. Admission is free for kids 12 years of age and under.

Webstreamed on four platforms
Action fans will be pleased as the 2018 Short Track Team Selections will be webstreamed live on four web platforms: Canada’s Olympic Network CBC/Radio-Canada will carry the action live online at cbcsports.ca and ici.radio-canada.ca/sports, as will Radio-Canada’s broadcast partner for the PyeongChang Games, RDS (rds.ca/courtepiste). Competitions will also be live on Speed Skating Canada’s Facebook page (facebook.com/SSC.PVC).

"As CBC Sports and Radio-Canada prepare to bring Canadians along on the road to PyeongChang 2018 and the Olympic Winter Games, we are pleased to partner with Speed Skating Canada to provide access to the 2018 Short Track Team Selections from Montreal, QC, on August 12 - 20," said Greg Stremlaw, Executive Director, CBC Sports and General Manager, Olympics. "As Canada gets ready to cheer their sports heroes during the Olympic Games, providing Canadians with early access so they can know and follow the athlete journey is a privilege we are proud to honour."

The schedule as well as full details are available at: http://www.speedskating.ca/.

About Speed Skating Canada
“To Challenge and Inspire Canada to Thrive through the power of Speed Skating”

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.

Speed Skating Canada would like to thank its sponsors:

Premium partner: Intact Insurance
Funding partners: Government of Canada (Sport Canada), Own The Podium, Canadian Olympic Committee
Official On-Ice High Performance Apparel: Li-Ning
Long Track Team Sponsor: KIA
Official Suppliers: Auclair, USANA
Sport Development Partners: Winsport Canada, Calgary’s Olympic Oval, University of Calgary, Institut national du sport du Québec, Government of Quebec, Canadian Sport Institute-Calgary, City of Montreal, Quebec City, Conseil du sport de haut niveau de Québec

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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