Home ice advantage: World Cup short track set for Montreal
Canada’s short track team has another chance at early season success, this time on home soil, when the ISU World Cup makes a stop in Montreal this Friday to Sunday.
The team opened the season last weekend with five medals in Salt Lake City and will now compete in front of home fans at Maurice Richard Arena. Two-time Olympian Marianne St-Gelais was Canada’s headliner in Utah, winning a gold and two bronze. One of those bronze was a 3000m relay national record along with Olympian Valérie Maltais plus Kasandra Bradette and Kim Boutin. Maltais added a bronze in the 1500m race. Four-time Olympic medallist Charles Hamelin raced to a silver in the men’s 1500m.
“You never know what to expect for your first race of the season, but we got a few good surprises especially on the relay side. What we lack in experience, we make up for in aggressiveness and power. We can only get better,” commented St-Gelais on Wednesday pointing out the relative World Cup inexperience of skaters like Bradette and Boutin.
“Skating in front of a home crowd gives me wings.” – Marianne St-Gelais on racing in Montreal
It truly is a homecoming for the team, as almost all members train at Maurice Richard. They are also a familiar group of athletes to the city. Charles Hamelin is confident: “I’m happy with the way I’ve started the season. We got the jitters out of the way and that should help us get better results this weekend,” he said referencing his younger men’s team, “The guys did really well. Rarely have we seen three Canadians make the 1500m final. During the first couple of days you could tell that the younger skaters were a bit stressed, but that’s normal.” One of those finalists was 18-year-old Samuel Girard, a skater Hamelin has highly praised, the other was Vancouver 2010 relay gold medallist Guillaume Bastille.
Montreal will feature many of the sport’s best including Russia’s triple Sochi medallist Victor An and a strong South Korean women’s team. There will also be a live CBC broadcast and web stream 5 – 6 pm ET on both Saturday and Sunday.
Long track begins this weekend
While the short track team battles it out in Montreal, Canada’s long track specialists will begin their own World Cup season in Obihiro, Japan. Sochi double medallist Denny Morrison and the rest of the Canadians also compete November 14th – 16th.