Montreal, QC - The top 64 short track speed skaters in Canada will battle at the Canadian Senior Championships, January 15-17 at Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal, for a spot on the National Team at the 2016 World Short Track Championships and the two Winter World Cups.
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Among the 32 men and 32 women in action, Olympic medalists who represented Canada at recent Fall World Cups Marianne St-Gelais, Charles Hamelin, Valérie Maltais, Charle Cournoyer and François Hamelin will be on hand, as well as those who skated with them: Samuel Girard, Kasandra Bradette, Patrick Duffy, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, Audrey Phaneuf, Pascal Dion, Sasha Fathoullin and Jamie MacDonald.
Macdonald leads a talented group of Oval coached athletes that includes fellow National Development team skater Courtney Shmyr, Isabelle Carrier (QC), Marika Nadal (AB) Alison Desmarais (BC), Jamie Lee (BC), Kaelin McNally (BC), Olivia Scott (ON) and Heather Clarke (YK). The Men's side includes Jacob McKenzie (ON), Keegan Christ (SK), Jesse Slusar (SK), Keil Hillis (AB) and Ian Smibert (ON). All of these athletes train at the Olympic Oval under Stage 3 Coach Alan McIlveen and Stage 4 Coach Maggie Qi.
All athletes qualified by taking part in the Fall World Cup Selections, held last September in Montreal, or following their performances at the Canadian Open National Qualifier held in Richmond, B.C., in November.
The 1500m races will be held this Friday, followed by the 500m events on Saturday and the 1000m on Sunday. Based on the points gained in those three events, the 16 best skaters per gender will have the opportunity to improve their overall ranking by taking part in one last event: the 3000m.
Admission is $5 per day or $10 for the three-day competition, and is free for kids six years of age or less.
Also in action this weekend will be three Olympic medalists who are looking to make a comeback on the Short Track Canadian Team for the Winter World Cups and/or World Championships: Olivier Jean, Marie-Ève Drolet and Anouk (Leblanc-Boucher) English.
After qualifying and then withdrawing from the last Short Track Fall World Cups to focus on long track, Olivier Jean is back in Montreal. Jean took part in the first four Long Track World Cups of the season. Following the Canadian Single Distance Championships held last week in Calgary, the 2010 and 2014 Olympian, who won a gold medal in Vancouver in the relay event, took the second spot in the 1500m.
Marie-Ève Drolet will be able to evaluate at what level she is at presently after giving birth to her first child in January of 2015. As part of her return to intensive training, the 2002 and 2014 Olympic medalist in the relay event, now 33 years of age, took second spot in the final ranking at the Canadian Open National Qualifier held November 19-22 in Richmond, B.C.
As for Anouk (Leblanc-Boucher) English, she is aiming to pursue her comeback to competition after being unable to qualify for the 2010 Olympic Games. The 35 year-old skater, a bronze medalist in the 500m and a silver medalist in the relay event at the 2006 Olympic Games, is now looking ahead to the 2018 Games in South Korea.
Webcast on CBC.ca and Radio-Canada.ca
The 2016 Canadian Senior Championship competitions will be webcast live on the cbc.ca and radio-canada.ca websites. Direct links are available on www.speedskating.ca, as are the competition and live webcast schedules for the events set to take place at Maurice-Richard arena.
Qualifying for the World Championships and World Cups
Following this weekend's competition, skaters will be ranked based on the combined results of the Canadian Senior Championships – which will count for 80% of total points --, and the Fall World Cup Selections or the Canadian Open National Qualifier – to count for 20%.
Five men and five women will represent the country at the World Senior Championships, which will be held March 11-13 in Seoul, South Korea. The first three skaters per gender based on the combined ranking will automatically qualify. The fourth position will be allocated based on bye requests or, if none, will go to the skater ranked fourth in the combined ranking. The fifth position will be a discretionary choice.
In the individual events of the 2016 World Senior Championships, Canada will have a total of two men and three women representing the country. The first skater on the men’s side and the first two on the women’s side, based on the combined ranking, will each get a spot. The spots that are left will be discretionary choices.
For the World Cups, six athletes per gender will be chosen for stage #5 to be held in Dresden, Germany, February 5-7, and stage #6 in Dordrecht, Netherlands, the following week. Athletes selected for the World Championships will automatically be chosen for World Cups 5 and 6 while the next spot (s), depending if all athletes for World Championships have been named before departure for the World Cup, will be discretionary choice (s).
More information, including the full schedule, is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.