Dubois Breaks Canadian 500m Record on Opening Day of the ISU World Cup Short Track in Calgary

Canada advances to semis in World Cup debut of mixed gender relay

CALGARY, ALBERTA – History was made on the opening day of the 2018 ISU World Cup Short Track in Calgary, Alberta as Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, QC etched his name into the record books with a new Canadian record in the 500m. Canada also qualified for the semi-finals in the mixed gender relay, a discipline that made its World Cup debut on Friday at the Olympic Oval.

Dubois put forth a time of 39.845 in his heat, surpassing the old mark of 39.987 set by teammate Samuel Girard at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. It was one of only two sub-40 second times posted on opening day. 

“I just banked a whole lot of confidence for the rest of the weekend and for the next World Cup,” remarked Dubois, who is skating individual distances for the first time on the World Cup circuit this season. “I’m going to keep riding that wave and I hope it goes well.”

Dubois was also the only Canadian to advance in the 1000m, after teammates Charles Hamelin of Saint-Julie, QC and Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC failed to do so.

It was a tough day for Hamelin, winner of last season’s World Championship title, as he was also disqualified from the 500m (1) heats due to a false start penalty.

Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, QC and Cédrik Blais of Châteauguay, QC will join Dubois in the quarter-finals of their respective 500m races. Girard also advanced in the 1500m, along with teammates Cournoyer and Pascal Dion of Montreal, QC.

Canada’s women’s team was near perfect on Friday, moving eight of ten skaters directly into the next rounds.

Alyson Charles of Montreal, QC kicked off her international career with a pair of first place finishes in the ladies 500m (1) and 500m (2) heats, advancing to the quarter-finals in both.

Alison Desmarais of Vanderhoof, BC - a skater raised on Olympic Oval ice and skating in front of a crowd full of supporters - also advanced in both of her individual races, the 500m (1) and 1000m.

After a dominant performance at last season’s ISU Junior World Championship, a nervous Courtney Sarault squeezed into the semi-final of the 1500m, her first-ever World Cup race. The native of Moncton, NB put forth a much more polished performance in the 1000m later in the day, advancing in that distance as well.

“In the first race the nerves were there,” admitted Sarault. “I wasn’t expecting to be that nervous. I’m always nervous before a race, but usually when I start skating the nerves go away, but that wasn’t really the case in my first race.”

“That [the 1500m] wasn’t my best race, but I cam back in the 1000m and performed really well. I’m proud of myself for that,” she added.

Camille de Serres-Rainville of Montreal, QC posted the second fastest 1000m time of the day at 1:29.112 to move into the next round, while Claudia Gagnon of Saguenay, QC claimed a fastest third-place spot in the 1500m to advance. 

While the men’s and ladies relay teams both advanced on Friday, all eyes were on the mixed gender relay, which was making its debut on the World Cup stage.

The first Canadians to take part in the race - Blais, Dubois, Charles and Sarault - moved on to the semis after a second-place finish against the U.S. and France, who were penalized for an improper exchange.  

“It’s a very entertaining race that allows us to work with the girls and bring the whole team closer,” said Blais. “We were confident coming onto the ice. Our strategy was to take the lead early and go fast.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” added Dubois. “It went pretty well, with us moving on, and I’m excited to see what we can do the rest of the weekend.”

The competition continues tomorrow with the quarters, semis and finals for both the men’s and ladies 500m (1) and 1500m races, as well as the semi-finals for the men’s, ladies and mixed gender relays.

Canada will have eight skaters competing in individual distances tomorrow, outside of the repechage. Dubois will skate in the men’s 500m (1), Cournoyer, Dion and Girard in the men’s 1500m, Charles and Desmarais in the ladies 500m (1), and Gagnon and Sarault in the ladies 1500m. All three relay teams will also be in action.

CBCsports.ca and Radio-Canada will be live streaming the event on Saturday beginning at 3:20PM ET. CBC will also have live broadcast coverage from 5:00PM ET to 6:00PM ET as part of their Road to the Olympic Games program. 

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