Laurie Marceau & Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier Win 1500m at Short Track National Team Selections

While the top-5 male and female short track speed skaters in the country are currently in Warsaw, Poland, where they will race in the World Team Championships this weekend, the rest of Canada’s top athletes are at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal, where they will take part in the last competition of the season. The National Team Selections #2 allows skaters who could not qualify for World Championships to get precious points in order to confirm their spot on next year’s National and Development Teams. Today, Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC) and Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier (Sherbrooke, QC) won the first event, the 1500m.

Through the weekend, skaters will compete over 1500m, 500m, 1000m and 3000m races, earning precious points in each distance. Overall rankings at the end of the competition combine with results achieved at the Canadian Open Championships earlier in January will help determine which athletes will make the National and Development teams for the 2011-12 season. The athletes currently at World Championships are guaranteed a place on the National Team, leaving only three positions for other skaters to qualify in each gender.

Laurie Marceau was able to gain valuable points today when she won top honours in the women’s 1500m final. She was racing alongside Gabrielle Waddell (Red Deer, AB), Sabrina Bourgela (Montréal, QC), Ann-Véronique Michaud (Amqui, QC), Kristy Shoebridge (Cambridge, ON and Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC).

Waddell took control of the race from the start, but Michaud and her exchanged place in front for the first few laps, before Mendes-Campeau took the lead with a powerful outside pass with eight laps to go. The Montreal skater accelerated the pace and stayed in front for a few laps. With just one and a half lap before the end of the race, Waddell came back in front. Mendes-Campeau tried to get back in front in the last corner, but slipped a bit and was later disqualified for impeding on the maneuver. This allowed Laurie Marceau to slide to first place and cross the finish line in first with a time of 2:31.830. Sabrina Bourgela (2:31.864) was also able to edge out Waddell (2:31.917) at the finish. Michaud ends up fourth (2:33.858) and Shoebridge fifth (2:33.900).

On the men side, it was an action packed final with seven skaters on the start line. Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier, Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC), Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC), François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC), Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB) and Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, QC) were all hoping to get the most points in the final.

There was a lot of movement through the race, with Chiasson-Poirier and Beaulieu leading for the main part. Everyone really went for the win in the last lap, but Gabriel Chiasson-Poirier was able to confirm his first place, crossing the finish in 2:16.381. François-Louis Tremblay came in second (2:16.392), Bastille was third (2:16.412) and Beaulieu fourth (2:16.583). Marc-André Monette was the fifth skater to cross the finish line in 2:16.601, he was followed by McFarlane (2:16.677) and Charle Cournoyer (2:25.035).

Canadian Junior A, B and Neo-Senior Championships

Senior skaters are not the only ones competing at the Maurice-Richard Arena this weekend. In the morning, junior A, B and neo-senior skaters are competing in their Canadian Championships. Today, Julien Collin-Demers of Ontario won top honours in the men’s Junior A and Neo-Senior category. The silver medal went to Jean-Christophe Marando of Québec and bronze to Philippe Clément, also of Québec. In that same category but on the women’s side, Keri Morrison of Ontario won gold, followed at the finish by Valérie Alby of Québec for silver and Samia Gould of New Brunswick for bronze.

In Junior B division, Jesse Keca (British Columbia) won gold, Claudie Robert-Robitaille (Québec) won silver and Jamie MacDonald (British Columbia) took the bronze medal. In the men side, Sasha Fatoulin (Alberta) was first to cross the finish line in the final, he was followed by two skaters from Québec, David Goulet and Vincent Morin.

Tomorrow, athletes will compete in the 500m. Junior races will start at 9am and senior races at 2:30pm at the Maurice-Richard Arena. Races can also be watched live in webstreaming at