June 23rd, 2024

Canadians aim for better results at second short track World Cup in Montreal

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on October 26, 2023.

MONTREAL – Short track speedskating coach Sébastien Cros is hoping Canada can improve on its individual medal haul as the world’s top skaters return to Maurice Richard Arena for a second ISU World Cup event from Friday to Sunday.

Cros called the individual results at the season-opening World Cup event in Montreal last weekend “a little disappointing.”

So what would make a good weekend in Cros’s eyes?

“If we talk about numbers, if we want to be the top country, then we should have more medals than everybody else, and that would be a perfect weekend,” said Cros with a smile.

Canada captured gold in the men’s and women’s relays to cap the weekend on a positive note.

Individually, the team won three medals in eight events as Steven Dubois took silver in the first men’s 1,000-metre event, William Dandjinou earned bronze in the second, and Felix Roussel won silver in the men’s 500. South Korea led all countries with seven solo medals.

Canadian national champion Courtney Sarault had a fourth-place finish in the women’s 1,000 but said she wasn’t feeling great physically and “wouldn’t say it was my best competition ever.”

Danaé Blais – who skated Canada to gold in the final laps of the women’s relay – said she separates that triumph from her individual races.

“Individually I have a lot to work on,” said Blais, who had her best result in the 1,500, where she came sixth. “But I’m confident that I can work on that and arrive strong (this weekend).”

Cros said they would try to correct the “little mistakes” and “little details” that made the difference, using video to point out some tweaks certain skaters could make.

He still expects his team to produce even though it’s early in the season.

“It’s not the time to peak, but we’re still in a state of mind where we want to do well in every competition,” said Cros. “Of course, the world championships are more important, but I still see that some of our athletes are not yet at 100 per cent (of their abilities).

“Everything we worked on in training, we see it’s there, we see we’re close, it’ll take a little refinement.”

Despite the success in relays, Canada may not ice the same combinations this weekend.

Cros said it’s a balancing act between chasing results and developing the skaters.

“We want results, but we’re thinking about the whole team because we don’t know what team we’ll have at the world championships in March or in a year or two,” he said. “The idea is to get them familiar with working with each other in different ways so that when we arrive at major competitions, we’ve developed that – there’s nothing new, there’s no surprises and we know what we have to do.”

The competition begins Friday with qualification followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and finals on Saturday and Sunday.

Some Canadian skaters will then take part in a third consecutive competition at home as Laval, Que., hosts the Nov. 3-5 Four Continents speedskating championships at Place Bell.

The world championships are set for March 15-17 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

COMPETITION LINEUP

Women’s

500 metres – Florence Brunelle (Trois-Rivières, Que.), Rikki Doak (Fredericton), Renée Steenge (Brampton, Ont.)

1,000 РClaudia Gagnon (La Baie, Que.), Blais (Ch̢teauguay, Que.), Doak

1,500 (1) – Gagnon, Blais, Sarault (Moncton, N.B.)

1,500 (2) – Brunelle, Sarault, Steenge

Men’s

500 – Maxime Laoun (Montreal), Jordan Pierre-Gilles (Sherbrooke, Que.), Dubois (Lachenaie, Que.)

1,000 – Dandjinou (Montreal), Roussel (Sherbrooke), Laoun

1,500 (1) – Dandjinou, Roussel, Pascal Dion (Montreal)

1,500 (2) – Dion, Dubois, Pierre-Gilles

Relays

Women’s 3,000

Men’s 5,000

Mixed team relay

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2023.

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