Gauthier & Bélanger top skaters at Canadian Junior Short Track Championships

Gauthier and Bélanger top skaters at Canadian Junior Short Track Championships in Toronto
Top skaters to represent Canada at the 2013 world championships in Poland

– The 2011 Canadian junior champion continued his winning ways today at the 2012 Canadian Junior Short Track Championships at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke, Ont. Yoan Gauthier of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., won the 500- and 1,500-metre races to rank first after day one of competition. Genève Bélanger of Montreal was the top female, winning the 1,500 metres and placing second in the 500 metres.

The national championships feature 32 of Canada’s top male and female skaters from 14 to 19 years of age. They competed in the 500- and 1,500-metre distances today.

Gauthier, one of four men to represent Canada at the 2012 world championships in Australia, crossed the finish line in two minutes and 25.132 seconds to edge Calgary’s Sasha Fathoullin, who came in second with a time of 2:25.219, by almost two tenths of a second (0.187). In the eight-man final, Maxime Laoun of Montreal was third (2:25.546) and home club skater William Preudhomme of Toronto came in fourth place (2:25.797).

In the men’s 500-metre final, Gauthier easily captured first place in 42.624 seconds. Fathoullin was second in 42.985 seconds, with David Goulet of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., claiming third place (43.069). Preudhomme earned valuable points in taking fourth place in 43.797 seconds.

After the first two races, Gauthier is unofficially ranked first with 2,000 points, followed by Fathoullin with 1,632, Preudhomme with 1,086 in third and Goulet with 1,028 in fourth place. Skaters received 1,000 points for a first place finish, 816 for second, 666 for third and 543 for fourth place.

Hosted by the Toronto Speed Skating Club, the championships wrap-up tomorrow with the 1,000 metres and the second 1,500-race for the top skaters ranked based on their cumulative results from the first three distances (500, 1,000 and first 1,500).

In the women’s 1,500-metre final, Genève Bélanger of Montreal won in a time of two minutes and 41.61 seconds. Jamie MacDonald of Fort St. James, B.C., claimed second place in a time of 2 :41.72, while Lydiane Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., was third (2:42.56). Joanie Gervais of Jonquière, Que., hung on to fourth place in the seven-skater final with a time of 2:43.64.

In the women’s 500-metre final, Audrey Phaneuf of Boucherville, Que., took the top spot in a time of 45.84 seconds. Bélanger was second in 45.92, followed by Gervais (46.13) and Léa Thibault of Laval, Que. (46.280).

Thibault was second overall last year, while Phaneuf was third and Bélanger took fourth place. All three competed at the 2012 World Junior Championships.

The women’s unofficial ranking after two races has Bélanger first with 1,816 points. Phaneuf is second with 1,362, followed by Gervais in third with 1,209 and MacDonald in fourth at 1,178.

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.

In other happenings today, the Brampton Speed Skating Club (BSSC) received $1,000 from Speed Skating Canada’s World Cup Podium Tracker program, presented by Intact Insurance. The Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport) and member of Parliament for Bramelea-Gore-Malton, joined Monika Federau, senior vice-president, marketing of Intact Insurance and Olympic gold medallists Catriona Le May Doan and François-Louis Tremblay in making the cheque presentation to BSSC president Anne-Marie Malcolm.

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