Charles Hamelin & Marianne St-Gelais to lead a young Canadian team at the 2015 Short Track Speed Skating World Championships

The Canadian short track speed skating team will conclude its 2014-2015 season in Moscow, Russia, at the 2015 ISU World Championships set to take place March 13-15.

Olympic medalists Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC) and Marianne St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien, QC) will lead a young Canadian team comprised of 10 athletes, including five who will be making their debut at the World Championships.

Charles Hamelin, Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC) and Patrick Duffy (Oakville, ON) on the men's side, as well as St-Gelais, Kim Boutin (Sherbrooke, QC) and Kasandra Bradette (Saint-Félicien, QC) on the women's team will be skating in the 500m, 1000m and 1500m individual races, and will try to finish among the top eight in overall standings after the three events to qualify for the men's and women's 3000m super final, and therefore continue earning points for the overall title.

Olympic medalists Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, borough La Baie, QC) as well as junior-age athlete Genève Bélanger (Montréal, borough Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, QC) will round out the Canadian team for the relay races. The list of skaters who take part in the relay will be decided before each round of races.

Charles Hamelin will be taking part in the World Championships for the 12th straight time and will go for the world title, an honour which was won by a Canadian male skater for the last time in 1998. That year, five-time Olympic medalist Marc Gagnon was crowned world champion. Gagnon also won the world title in 1993, 1994 and 1996. On the women's side, Nathalie Lambert was the last Canadian female skater to win an overall world title, earning it in 1991, 1993 and 1994.

Hamelin finished second overall in 2007 and 2011, and was third on three occasions, in 2009, 2013 and 2014.

“I am aiming for nothing less than being world champion,” said the four-time Olympic medalist who, this season, won six individual medals in six World Cup stages. “To be able to do that, I'll have to be consistent and smart in my races, while avoiding being disqualified in order to get the maximum amount of points available.”

St-Gelais looking to pursue her successful season
Marianne St-Gelais, for her part, will be taking part in the Short Track Speed Skating World Championships for the sixth straight time.

The three-time Olympic medalist finished 10th in overall standings last year, after coming up with her best-ever result, fourth place, in 2013.

After a tough 2013-14 season, St-Gelais bounced back this season with eight podium finishes in individual races.

“I needed to put my last few seasons behind me,” said St-Gelais. “This year, I found myself again as a skater. I learned to love racing again, to have fun in my races while still learning from them. For me, this is a great return to form!”

She prefers not to set lofty goals for the upcoming World Championships, as she mostly aims to continue to build on the work she has done so far this season.

“Although I always try to win, I'm not giving myself specific objectives for the World Championships,” said St-Gelais. “But I would like to do the same thing I've done this season at the World Cups. That paid off much more than just simply aiming for specific results. I want to skate well and keep my racing reflexes sharp.”

A learning experience for rookies ahead of the 2018 Olympics
Although several Olympic medalists will represent Canada at the World Championships, the national team will also have five skaters who will be taking part in the annual competition for the very first time.

After participating in their first World Cup season on a full-time basis, Bradette and Duffy, as well as Bélanger, Boutin and Girard, will skate in World Championships for the first time of their career.

“It will be very good for them in regards to the road towards the 2018 Olympic Games,” said Hamelin. “It will be a good learning experience for the young skaters, because this a competition that's quite hard in the sense that there is a lot of racing, with three events per day, Saturday and Sunday. It's quite hard physically and mentally. They've taken part in many World Cups this year, but they will realize that the World Championships are an entirely different matter, because all the athletes show up in top form and go for the win. It's the best type of experience you can get.”

St-Gelais said she is confident the young Canadian team will do well in Moscow, considering Canada collected a total of 28 medals in six World Cup stages this season.

“These aren't the same girls than at the start of the season,” said St-Gelais of her teammates on the women's team. “They've learned a lot. But it will still be their first World Championships. We don't know how they will be able to manage it. I remember my first Worlds, and how it wasn't my best experience. They have to take this competition as a build-up for the Olympics in three years.”

In a similar format to that of the World Cups, the 2015 World Championships will feature qualification rounds for the 500m, 1000m and 1500m races on Friday, followed on Saturday by the 1500m semifinals and finals, as well as the 500m quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, and the relay semifinals. The competition will end on Sunday, March 15, with the 1000m quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, in addition to the 3000m super finals and the relay finals.

Last year, at the World Championships held in Montreal, Canada had seven podium finishes, while Valérie Maltais and Charles Hamelin eached finished the competition in third place overall.

In 39 World Championships so far, Canada has won 177 medals, with 59 gold, 61 silver and 57 bronze, good for second place overall, behind South Korea (199 medals) and ahead of China (129).

Canadian short track speed skating team for the 2015 Short Track World Championships:
Men
-BASTILLE, Guillaume (Rivière-du-Loup, QC)
-DUFFY, Patrick (Oakville, ON)
-GIRARD, Samuel (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC)
-HAMELIN, Charles (Sainte-Julie, QC)
-JEAN, Olivier (Lachenaie, QC)
 
Women
-BÉLANGER, Genève (Montreal, borough Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, QC)
-BOUTIN, Kim (Sherbrooke, QC)
-BRADETTE, Kasandra (Saint-Félicien, QC)
-MALTAIS, Valérie (Saguenay, borough La Baie, QC)
-ST-GELAIS, Marianne (Saint-Félicien, QC)

More info, including the full schedule and results, are available on 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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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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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