Alyson Charles Wins Second Straight 500m Bronze, Relay Teams Set New Canadian Records

Charles wins second bronze in the 500m; Ladies Relay sets new Canadian record in bronze medal performance 

CALGARY, ALBERTA – Alyson Charles won a second consecutive 500m bronze medal on Sunday at the 2018 ISU World Cup Short Track in Calgary, while the Canadian ladies relay team established a new Canadian record, a performance that also earned them bronze. The men’s relay team also set a Canadian new record, but finished fourth overall.

The ladies’ relay team, comprised entirely of World Cup rookies, posted a time of 4:05.267, breaking the previous Canadian record of 4:07.628 which was set in Dresden, Germany during the 2013 season. Their performance was good enough to take home the bronze medal, behind first place Russia and second place Korea.

“We proved a lot this weekend in our first World Cup,” said Claudia Gagnon. “I think people are excited about our young team.”

“This was just amazing, we’re really proud,” added Courtney Sarault.

Frédéric Blackburn, the women’s national team coach, was all smiles at the end of his team’s first World Cup of the season.

“It’s fun to coach them,” he said referring to his team after the relay. “I think they’ve improved a lot technically and that is the goal this year, to improve technically and physically.”

In addition to helping her relay team win a medal, Alyson Charles also claimed some individual hardware for the second time this weekend.

After winning her first ever World Cup medal yesterday, a bronze in the 500m, the 20-year-old Charles from Montreal, Que. was able to replicate her success and claim yet another bronze medal in the second running of the 500m on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the men’s relay final was a record setting one, both for the gold medal winning Hungarian team and the fourth place Canadians. Hungary established a new world record with a time of 6:28.625, while the Canadians surpassed the national mark of 6:30.958 set in 2012, clocking in at 6:29.414.

While it was fast, it was only good enough for a fourth-place finish.

A pair of Canadians also just missed the podium on the final day of competition, with Samuel Girard finishing fourth in the men’s 500m and Courtney Sarault, the silver medalist in yesterday’s 1500m, fourth in the ladies 1000m.

Girard, a native of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., won both his quarter and semi final races, avoiding some contact from a Korean skater in the latter, to become the first Canadian male to skater to advance to a final this weekend. Unfortunately, he was unable to pull through in the finals and win his first medal of the season.

“I had the legs, it was just a matter of my positioning and the strategy I used for trying to pass the other skaters and speed up afterwards that didn’t quite work out,” said Girard.

Claudia Gagnon of Saguenay, Que. won both of her 500m(2) repechage races to qualify for the main draw. She followed that with a fastest third-place time in the quarters but could only muster a fourth-place finish in the semis, putting her in the B-finals, where she finished second.

The rest of the Canadian skaters were unable to make it past their respective quarter-finals.

Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que. qualified for the men’s 1000m after two great races in the repechage session but was unable to advance any further. The speedy Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, Que., who set a new Canadian record in the 500m on Friday, was penalized in the same quarter-final race, putting an end to his day.

Alison Desmarais of Vanderhoof, B.C. and Camille de Serres-Rainville of Montreal, Que. both failed to advance in the ladies 1000m, while Cédrik Blais of Châteauguay, Que. didn’t make the cut in the men’s 500m(2).

Canada’s mixed relay team ended their first World Cup with a second-place finish in the B-final.

It was another tough day at the rink for Charles Hamelin, who was eliminated from medal contention after failing to make it through in the 1000m repechage, the first of his 16-year World Cup career. The veteran skater from Sainte-Julie, Que. jumped out ahead and controlled the pace to win his first race of the day, however he was penalized in his second race after losing control and making contact with another skater while attempting a pass.

Pascal Dion of Montreal, Que. also failed to advance past the repechage stages after being penalized in his second men’s 500m(2) race of the morning.

Canada’s short track team will look to build upon their success in Calgary – where they won 4 medals (3 individual, 1 team) – as they continue their ISU World Cup season in Salt Lake City, USA next weekend.

For more information on this weekend’s World Cup Short Track #1 in Calgary, including results and recaps from each day of competition, please visit www.speedskating.ca/events/world-cup-1-st.