DORDRECHT – The Canadian Short Track Speed Skating team is in Dordrecht, Netherlands, this weekend, February 12-14, for the sixth and last World Cup of the season and, with 39 medals so far, will aim to surpass the mark of 40 for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.
The Canadian team is looking for five more medals this weekend, which would bring their tally to 44 and represent the best season since the 2002-2003 campaign as Canada won 47 medals.
Following her two gold medals in the 500m and 1000m last week in Dresden, Germany, Marianne St-Gelais of Saint-Félicien, QC, is aiming to be again on the first step of the podium in the 500m and 1500m events.
With nine medals so far this season, the triple Olympic silver medalist is already having her best-ever individual season.
“I know I’m having a really good season, but I still have the World Championships in mind,” said Marianne St-Gelais, “For me, the World Cups are the perfect opportunities to implement our strategies and, even if I have good results, my main focus remains the races I will do in March. I hope to be able to race in the same way next month in Seoul. I’m very excited because I have the distinct impression that my goal is really attainable. It’s stressful, but also exciting!”
Her teammate and 2014 Olympic medalist Valérie Maltais of La Baie, QC, will be looking this weekend to be on the podium in the 1500m event and in the first 1000m of the weekend. So far this season, Maltais has won three individual medals.
The other skaters on the women's team are all looking to end up in the top 8 this weekend: Kasandra Bradette of Saint-Félicien, QC, (500m and 1000m (1)), Namasthée Harris-Gauthier of Montréal (Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie borough) in both 1000m events, Audrey Phaneuf of Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, in the 1000m (2) and 1500m, and Jamie MacDonald of Fort St. James, B.C., in the 500m and 1000m (1).
Two Olympic medalists on the men’s side
As for the men’s team, Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, QC, who won a bronze medal in the 1000m last weekend in Dresden, and François Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, QC, will lead the Canadian team. Charles Hamelin and Samuel Girard, who will represent Canada in the individual events at the World Championships, are presently back in Montreal to finalize their preparation for the Seoul competition.
Cournoyer is looking for a podium result and to take part in the main final this weekend as he will take part in the 1000m (2) and 1500m events.
François Hamelin will race in the 500m and 1500m and is aiming to qualify for both A finals.
Sasha Fathoullin of Calgary, who won a silver medal in the 1500m in Dresden, his second individual medal in three World Cups so far over his career, will skate the 1000m (2) and 1500m events and is looking for top-10 finishes.
Patrick Duffy of Oakville, ON, and Cédrik Blais of Châteauguay, QC, who will take the spots left vacant by Charles Hamelin and Samuel Girard, will complete the men’s Canadian team.
Duffy will take part in the 1000m, where he will be looking to be in the A final, and in the 500m, where he wants to skate at least in the semifinals.
For his part, Cédrik Blais, age 19, will be skating in his first-ever World Cup.
Following his victory in the 1000m at the 2015 Canadian Junior Championships and after representing Canada at the Winter Universiade last year, Blais took the 11th spot at the 2015 Fall World Cup Selections and eighth place at the recent Canadian Senior Championships.
In Dordrecht, he will take part in the two 1000m races and his goal is to skate at least in the quarterfinals.
Note that Canada will be represented by five male skaters at this World Cup.
Following the qualification rounds for all events set for Friday, February 12, repechage and final rounds in the first 1000m of the weekend and in the 1500m event, as well as the relay semifinals, will take place on Saturday, February 13. Repechage and final rounds for the second 1000m and the 500m event, as well as the relay finals, will be held on Sunday, February 14.
Members of the Canadian team for the ISU World Cup Short Track #6 in Dordrecht, Netherlands
-BRADETTE, Kasandra (Saint-Félicien, QC) – 1000m (1), 500m
-HARRIS-GAUTHIER, Namasthée (Montréal, Rosemont - La Petite-Patrie borough, QC) – 1000m (1), 1000m (2)
-MACDONALD, Jamie (Fort St. James, B.C.) – 1000m (1), 500m
-MALTAIS, Valérie (Saguenay, La Baie borough, QC) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-PHANEUF, Audrey (Saint-Hyacinthe, QC) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-ST-GELAIS, Marianne (Saint-Félicien, QC) – 1500m, 500m
-BLAIS, Cédrik (Châteauguay, QC) – 1000m (1), 1000m (2)
-COURNOYER, Charle (Boucherville, QC) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-DUFFY, Patrick (Oakville, ON) – 1000m (1), 500m
-FATHOULLIN, Sasha (Calgary, AB) – 1500m, 1000m (2)
-HAMELIN, François (Sainte-Julie, QC) – 1500m, 500m
More information is available at Speed Skating Canada’s website: www.speedskating.ca.