Calgary Set to Host ISU World Cup Short Track at Olympic Oval

Five Canadian women, along with Mixed Gender Relay, to make their World Cup debut

CALGARY, ALBERTA – Speed Skating Canada will welcome over 175 short track speed skaters from 27 different countries to Calgary, Alberta this weekend for the 2018 ISU World Cup Short Track #1, the first competition of the international season. The event runs from November 2-4 at the Olympic Oval.

This will mark the fifth time in the past 20 years that Calgary will host a short track World Cup, having also done so during the 2016-17, 2012-13, 2001-02 and 2000-01 seasons.

The competition gets underway Friday with the qualifying races in all distances. The finals for the men’s and ladies 500m (1) and 1500m races will take place on Saturday, while those for the men’s and ladies 500m (2) and 1000m races, along with all three relays (men’s, ladies and mixed gender) are set for Sunday.  

CBCsports.ca and Radio-Canada will be live streaming the event on Saturday beginning at 3:20PM ET and Sunday beginning at 3:00PM ET. CBC will also have live broadcast coverage from 5:00PM ET to 6:00PM ET on Saturday. The preliminary races on Friday can be viewed through the ISU’s YouTube channel.

Canada will be represented by a mix of veterans and newcomers.

The men’s team is comprised of Olympic medalists Charles Hamelin (Sainte-Julie, QC), Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC), Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, QC) and Pascal Dion (Montréal, QC), along with a pair of new faces in Cédrik Blais (Châteauguay, QC) and Steven Dubois (Lachenaie, QC).

“The vibe around this group from the beginning of the season has been incredible,” said Hamelin, who is preparing for his 16th season on the World Cup circuit. “They’ve brought me a new motivation that I maybe lost in the last few seasons,” he added referencing his young male and female teammates. 

The chance to compete in front of a Canadian crowd is something many of the skaters were excited about.

“It’s always fantastic having a home crowd cheering for us,” stated Cournoyer. “The whole team is pretty pumped up for the weekend. We’ve been training really hard for the past few months and are looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, all five skaters on the ladies team – Courtney Sarault (Moncton, NB), Alyson Charles (Montréal, QC), Alison Desmarais (Vanderhoof, BC), Claudia Gagnon (Saguenay, QC), and Camille De Serres-Rainville (Montréal, QC) – will be making their World Cup debut this weekend.

“We have five new girls taking part in this World Cup,” said Gagnon. “We are all young and I would say essentially in the same boat in terms of what to expect at the event and what our experience will be like.” 

While the nerves surely exist for the group of youngsters, the atmosphere was loose and extremely positive.

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” expressed a smiling Desmarais when asked about making the step to the senior ranks. “I’ve been preparing for this for a long time and I’m excited to start my international career.”

“We know that we have the support of all our teammates back home who have gone through this before,” added Desmarais, referring to Kim Boutin, Jamie Macdonald and Audrey Phaneuf, a trio of girls that won’t be competing in the first two World Cups. “They’ve been really good at helping us out and transitioning us into this new level of competition.”

When asked if she was intimated to be skating against competitors nearly double her age, Sarault, the youngest athlete on the team at 18 years of age, didn’t seem fazed.

“I’m the youngest, but I still have confidence in myself,” she said. “I’m not normally intimidated by older skaters. They definitely have more experience than me, but I think I can compete with them.”

In addition to new competitors, a new race will also make its debut in Calgary.

The 2000m Mixed Gender Relay, an exciting new race featuring two male and two female skaters, will make its international debut at this weekend’s World Cup. The event was tested a handful of times last season and has already been approved for including into the 2022 Olympic Program.

Please see below the full list of athletes, in alphabetical order by last name, and the races they will be skating in this weekend. A biography of each athlete can be found at www.speedskating.ca/teams/short-track

Men’s Team

  • BLAIS, Cédrik - 500m (1), 500m (2)
  • COURNOYER, Charle - 1000m, 1500m
  • DION, Pascal - 500m (2), 1500m
  • DUBOIS, Steven - 500m (1), 1000m
  • GIRARD, Samuel - 500m (2), 1500m
  • HAMELIN, Charles -500m (1), 1000m

 Ladies Team

  • CHARLES, Alyson - 500m (1), 500m (2)            
  • DE SERRES-RAINVILLE, Camille - 1000m, 1500m
  • DESMARAIS, Alison - 500m (1), 1000m
  • GAGNON, Claudia - 500m (2), 1500m
  • SARAULT, Courtney - 1000m, 1500m

For more information on the event, including links to schedules, results and webcasting, please visit www.speedskating.ca/events/world-cup-1-st.