2012 Canadian Junior Short Track Championships, Dec. 8-9

2012 Canadian Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships coming to Toronto, Dec. 8-9
Top skaters to represent Canada at the 2013 world championships in Poland

– The Toronto Speed Skating Club will play host, on behalf of Speed Skating Canada (SSC) and the Ontario Speed Skating Association (OSSA), to the 2012 Canadian Junior Short Track Championships on Saturday, Dec. 8 and Sunday, Dec. 9 at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ont.

The championship features 32 of Canada’s top male and female skaters from 14 to 19 years of age. The International Skating Union (ISU) eligibility rules state that junior skaters reach the age of 14, but not the age of 19 by July 1, 2012. Skaters qualified based on combined distance times recorded at specific SSC sanctioned competitions between Aug. 1 and Nov. 19, 2012.

The championship starts Saturday with the 1,500-metre and 500-metre distances, and continues Sunday with the 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres races. For Sunday’s 1,500 metres, athletes are ranked into the race based on their cumulative results from the first three distances from the championships. Admission is $5 each day, with races starting at 9 a.m.

Special guest: Five-time Olympic medalist and former world junior and senior champion, Francois-Louis Tremblay, will be on hand at the MasterCard Centre for races on Saturday and Sunday. Tremblay, a member of the national team, will not be with the squad for the World Cup in Harbin, China, on Dec. 7-9, but will be competing at the Canadian Open Championships in Montreal on Jan. 18 to 20.

“We are thrilled to be bringing the Canadian Junior Championships to Toronto. This meet is the highest level speed skating event hosted in Southwest Ontario for at least a decade,” said Desmond Preudhomme, president of the host club. “The championship will help us raise the bar in awareness, in competition hosting and in performance from our local athletes over time, and work towards putting Toronto on the speed skating map.”

Olympic gold medallist Charles Hamelin remembers his first Canadian Junior Championships with fondness. “It was at that competition (his first in 2001) that I saw I had the potential to make it on the national team,” said Hamelin, who won two medals this past weekend at World Cup #3 in Nagoya, Japan. “I remember my first experience very well because it was the first time I had the opportunity to qualify for the World Junior Championships.

“There were several skaters who were battling for the three spot available,” added Hamelin, who competed at the 2002 and 2003 World Junior Championships. “I finished third behind Steve Robillard and Olivier Jean (to qualify for the 2002 World Junior Championships in Korea).” He would go on to win a silver medal in the relay in 2002, and silver in the 500 and 1,500 metres and bronze in the relay in 2003.

“My first Canadian Junior Championships (2005) were a great experience for me,” said Valérie Maltais, Canada’s top female short track skater, who was also in Japan for the World Cup. “After a series of good races during the qualification process I was ranked third to go to my first World Junior Championships (2006). My other years at the Canadian junior championships gave me the experience of competing against the best juniors in the country.

“It’s important to take advantage of this competition that plays an important role in your career,” added Maltais, who competed at the 2006, 2007 and 2009 world junior championships, winning silver in the relay and bronze in the 500 metres.

The competition serves to select the Canadian team for the 2013 World Junior Championships being held in Warsaw, Poland, from Feb. 22-24. Canada will send the four top ranked women and men. Final ranking will be based on the total points from all four races at the Canadian championships.

Nineteen of the 32 women in the draw competed at last year’s championships in Calgary. The group includes last year’s silver and bronze medallists and fourth place finisher, who all represented Canada at the 2012 world junior championships in Australia. Development team member Léa Thibault of Laval, Que., returns to improve on her second place finish. She is joined by Audrey Phaneuf of Boucherville, Que., and Montreal’s Genève Bélanger, who ranked third and fourth respectively.

Of the 21 men competing again this year, seven finished in the top ten, including last year’s Canadian junior champion, Yoan Gauthier of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., and runner-up David Goulet of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. Both competed at the world juniors in 2012.

The host province is represented by eight skaters. From the host club, Stephanie Bowskill and William Preudhomme will be competing for a consecutive junior championship. Preudhomme was 13th and Bowskill took 20th place in Calgary last year. Laura Crack, Innzbruck Richards, Aileen Song, Arye Richards and Alphonse Ouimette are representing the Clarington Speed Skating Club. Hannah Morrison is from the Gloucester Concordes Speed Skating Club.

Six provinces and two territories are represented this year: New Brunswick (2), Quebec (41), Ontario (8), Saskatchewan (2), Alberta (3), B.C. (6), the Northwest Territories (1) and the Yukon (1).

The 32 men and 32 women entry lists are as follows (city; 2012 championship result). Note that entries are subject to change based on withdrawals and replacements:

MEN: James Barrette (Baie-Comeau, Que.); Mathieu Bernier (Montreal – 30th); Cédrik Blais (Chateauguay, Que.); Marc-Antoine Bouthillier (Montreal – 11th); Evan Brideau (Keswick N.B.); Victor Cameron (Laval, Que. – 26th); Mathieu Célestin (Blainville, Que. – 7th); Keegan Christ (Regina Sask. – 22nd); Jean-Félix Dansereau-Leclerc (Longueuil, Que. – 16th); Yannick Desmeules (Chicoutimi, Que.); Pascal Dion (Montreal – 25th); Hubert Drouin-Belleau (Montreal); Vincent Egesborg (Montreal – 8th); Andrew Evans (Fredericton N.B. – 27th); Sasha Fathoullin (Calgary – 5th); Sébastien Gagnon (Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Que. – 29th); Yoan Gauthier (Rivière-du-Loup, Que. – 1st); Samuel Girard (Ferland, Que. – 14th); Olivier Godin (St-Hyacinthe, Que. – 20th); Simon Godin (St-Hyacinthe, Que.); David Goulet (Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. – 2nd); Keil Hillis (Calgary Alta); Maxime Laoun (Montreal – 19th); Marc-Olivier Lemay (Montreal); Gabriel Maillé (Montreal – 9th); Vincent Morin (Sherbrooke, Que. – 6th); Alphonse Ouimette (Spencerville, Ont.); Émile Pettersen-Coulombe (Varennes, Que. – 17th); William Preudhomme (Toronto – 13th); Arye Richards (Oshawa, Ont.); Antoine Roy (Saint-Jean-Chrysostome, Que.); Jesse Slusar (Nipawin Sask. – 18th).

WOMEN: Audrey Anctil (Sainte-Julie, Que. – 26th); Amanda Barnès-Métras (Quebec City); Genève Bélanger (Montreal – 4th); Geanne Blais-Dufour (Quebec City); Kim Boutin (Sherbrooke, Que. – 14th); Stephanie Bowskill (Bailieboro, Ont. – 20th); Rosemarie Charest (St-Hyacinthe, Que. – 31st); Hannah Clark (Yellowknife); Heather Clarke (Whitehorse – 30th); Lydiane Cournoyer (Boucherville, Que.); Laura Crack (Toronto – 27th); Gabrielle Desharnais-Préfontaine (Sainte-Thérèse, Que. – 22nd); Catherine Desjardins-L. (Montreal – 17th); Joanie Gervais (Jonquière, Que. – 7th); Namasthée Harris-Gauthier (Montreal – 6th); Carolina Hiller (Prince George, B.C.); Jesse Keca (Kelowna B.C. – 10th); Lydia Laliberté (Sherbrooke, Que.); Jamie Lee (Fort St. John, B.C.); Jamie MacDonald (Fort St. James, B.C. – 9th); Kaelin McNally (Mission, B.C. – 29th); Hannah Morrison (Ottawa – 23rd); Maddison Pearman (Ponoka, Alta.); Audrey Phaneuf (Boucherville, Que. – 3rd); Innzbruck Richards (Oshawa, Ont. – 25th); Aileen Song (North York, Ont.); Sara Spence (Kamloops, B.C.); Léa Thibault (Laval, Que. – 2nd); Amélie Tremblay (Saint-Romuald, Que. – 15th); Rosalie Tremblay (Saint-Félicien, Que.); Stéfanie Tremblay (Alma, Que.); Elizabeth Ward (Montreal).

The 2012 Canadian Junior Championships are made possible through the support of SSC, OSSA, Intact Insurance, Apogée and the Crowne Plaza Hotel.