Canada will showcase a mix of experience and youth this weekend in Montreal as the short track speed skating World Cup season kicks off.
An aura of mystery still hovers over these post-Olympic years as some athletes treat themselves to a transitional season.
“The post-Olympic years always represent a bit of the unknown, underlined the head coach of the Canadian team, Sébastien Cros. We do not know how the summer went for the best skaters and if they will opt for a year of transition. This first World Cup allows skaters to measure themselves against others and gives indications on the adjustments to be made. »
If the Chinese were conspicuous by their absence last April in Montreal on the occasion of the world championship due to the pandemic, they will be present this time. Same thing for the Dutch Suzanne Schulting. The quadruple Olympic medalist from the Beijing Games had been declared positive upon her arrival in Montreal and had to withdraw from the worlds.
With the exception of Shaoang Liu, who won three medals in Beijing, including gold in the 500 m ahead of a Russian and Steven Dubois, and his brother Shaolin Liu, who will be conspicuous by their absence, the big names will be present. Liu won world gold last year ahead of Pascal Dion, who was crowned vice-world champion. A total of 150 skaters from 25 countries will be there.
Kim Boutin is very happy to compete against Schulting. “The higher the competition, the more interesting it is,” said the four-time Olympic medalist. It allows us to see where we are and plan our training.
Boutin will skip his 500 m specialty to focus on the 1000 m events. “When I sat down with Sébastien to set the plan for the next four years, the priority was to improve my overtaking,” she explained. Overtaking has been my pet peeve over the past few years. I need to improve my search for speed at the end of the race to come back. ”
Boutin worked a lot on the tactical aspect during his summer training. “To work on this facet, it is more interesting to participate in races of 1000 m than 500 m, explained Cros. Kim will find herself in the peloton and she will be able to work on her strategies. We are going to bring the 500 m back later in the World Cup, but that is not the priority objective. »
“There are aspects that Kim is working on 1000m and she's going to be able to transfer to 500m,” Cros continued. You need to arrive with different tools tactically, physically and mentally. You can't have a career solely on the physical level, otherwise you'll get caught up at some point. »
A 1st start for Mathieu Pelletier
Mathieu Pelletier succeeded to qualify for the World Cup at just 16 years old.
Mathieu Pelletier will become the second youngest Canadian to participate in a stage of the World Cup.
At only 16 years old, the skater from Laval obtained his pass by finishing ranked fifth at the nationals held in Quebec from October 14 to 16. The earliest skater selected in the World Cup is Steve Robillard, who accomplished the feat in 1999 at the age of 15.
“It's a pride and a beautiful feeling to be one of the youngest Canadians selected in the World Cup, expressed the one who put on the long blades for the first time at the age of 5 I will be the youngest skater at the World Cup this weekend. I feel ready and I will do my best. I want to gain experience. »
Identified by many as the future star of Canadian speed skating, Pelletier accepts the flowers, but keeps both feet on the ground. “It's a nice compliment, he admitted, but I don't feel any pressure. This is my first season on the international scene and the first year of a new Olympic cycle. My goal is to participate in the 2026 Games in Italy, but I will take it one step at a time.
Pelletier had to fight to earn his pass. “It was really tight until the last race and I had to manage an overtake with one and a half laps. It was the first time that I participated in the selections and I did not necessarily expect to qualify. »
Sébastien Cros is not surprised by Pelletier's success. “We saw him skate all summer with the Next Gen team and we knew he would be a serious candidate to qualify,” said the head coach of the Canadian team. At nationals, he was not at his best because he was still tired from his summer training. We managed his recovery before the World Cup. »
Charles Hamelin enjoys retirement
Charles Hamelin was in the front row to present the members of the Canadian team who will take part in the World Cup. Hamelin has not announced his return to competition. Instead, he swapped his “skin” for a jacket and played the role of presenter. “It is no coincidence that I am here because I said I wanted to stay close to the skates when I retired last April for the world championship. I am in total awe with the team. I couldn't be in Quebec for the selections, but I saw all the races. I will recover in January during the next selections. ”
Hamelin considers his sport to be healthy. “ There were surprises at the selections and it shows the depth of the team, he said. I have no fear that the men and women will do well. Hired somewhat at the last minute a year and a half before the Beijing Games, Sébastien Cros is well in place and he will be able to bring the team even further.”
“Other legends will take over, chasing the country's most decorated male athlete at the Winter Games with six Olympic medals. Steven [Dubois] is well in the saddle; Pascal [Dion] is solid; Jordan [Pierre-Gilles] has a heart as big as the world; and Maxime [Laoun] can surprise. There are young people who have a potential as big as the world.
Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128