Courtney Sarault & Alyson Charles Find Podium in World Cup Debut

Sarault claims silver in the 1500m; Charles takes home bronze in the 500m

CALGARY, ALBERTA – Courtney Sarault and Alyson Charles both found the podium at the 2018 ISU World Cup Short Track in Calgary on Saturday, the first World Cup of their respective careers. Sarault claimed silver after a photo finish in the Ladies 1500m, while Charles avoided a wipe out on the final lap to earn bronze in the Ladies 500m(1).

Sarault, 18, from Moncton, N.B., put together an impressive race in the 1500m final, but a photo finish showed she was just barely inched out of first place at the line. A silver medal in her first ever World Cup final is nonetheless an impressive feat.

“I’m pretty proud with myself and with my performance in that race,” said a smiling Sarault. “Today, I went in with way less nerves and wasn’t intimidated by the other girls. I worked hard to get there and felt I deserved a spot, so I just went for it.

“I think I did everything I could, except for my finish. I still have to work on that,” she added with a laugh.

Charles, 20, a native of Montreal, Que., was able to avoid an attempted pass, and the ensuing spill, on the final lap to bring home bronze in the 500m(1).

“I’m feeling over the moon,” a proud Charles told CBC Sports following the race. “I was not expecting a medal coming here. I was expecting to learn and do the best that I can because I’ve never skated with these skaters in my life – I just watched them on TV and hope one day I would be skating with them.”

“As the rounds went on I was feeling more confident about my potential,” added Charles. “I’m really happy about the result. I gave it everything and it went super well.”

When asked if she was surprised that she was able to compete with the top skaters in the world in her first ever World Cup final, Charles responded honestly.

“It did surprise me, it did,” she admitted. “It’s a surreal feeling, but I feel like I can get use to it.”

Both skaters will have another opportunity to qualify for a medal final on Sunday, with Sarault competing in the 1000m and Charles in the second running of the 500m.

A pair of Canadian skaters kicked off the morning with success in the repechage races.

Cédrik Blais of Châteauguay, Que. qualified for the main draw in the men’s 500m(1), but failed to advance past the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Camille de Serres-Rainville of Montreal, Que. made a beautiful pass right at the line to earn a spot in the ladies 1500m semis. A third-place finish in that race gave her a spot in the B-finals, where she came in sixth.

Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, Que. followed up yesterday’s record-breaking 500m performance with yet another sub-40 second time, however his third-place finish in the semis wasn’t quite good enough to qualify him for the A-final. He was later penalized in the B-final, putting an end to his day.

A trio of skaters started the day in contention for the men’s 1500m title, however only Pascal Dion of Montreal, Que. made it to the A-final, coming in fifth. Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que. was first in the B-final, while teammate Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que. was fourth.

Claudia Gagnon of Saguenay, Que. failed to advance to either of the 1500m finals, while Alison Desmarais of Vanderhoof, B.C. had her medal hopes dashed after a fall in the quarter-finals of the 500m(1).

The first World Cup of the short track season comes to an end on Sunday with the quarters, semis and finals for both the men’s and ladies 500m(2) and 1000m races, as well as the finals for the men’s, ladies and mixed gender relays. CBCsports.ca and Radio-Canada will be live streaming the event beginning at 3:00PM ET. 

Canada will have seven skaters competing in individual distances tomorrow, outside of the repechage. Charles will skate in the women’s 500m(2); Girard and Blais in the men’s 500m(2); Sarault, Desmarais and de Serres-Rainville in the women’s 1000m; and Dubois in the men’s 1000m.

All three relay teams will also be in action, with the men’s and ladies competing in the A-final, while the mixed gender team will skate in the B-final.

Veteran Charles Hamelin will look to rebound after a disappointing day of races Friday. He will need to pass through the 1000m repechage, something he has never done before in his career, to reach the podium in the individual distances. He will be joined by Cournoyer in the 1000m repechage, while Dion and Gagnon will skate in their respective 500m(2) repechages.

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