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Canadian relay teams qualify for Olympics; Boutin, St-Gelais win medals


SHANGHAI — Canada's men and women relay teams unofficially but mathematically qualified for the 2018 Olympic Games on Sunday with a third- and fourth-place finish respectively at a World Cup event.

Also, Kim Boutin and Marianne St-Gelais finished 1-2 in the women's 1,000 metres on the last day of the ISU World Cup short-track speedskating stage in Shanghai, China.

The Canadian men's relay featured Charles Hamelin from Sainte-Julie, Que., Samuel Girard from Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., Charle Cournoyer from Boucherville, Que., and Montreal's Pascal Dion. François Hamelin, from Sainte-Julie, skated in earlier rounds this weekend.

The women's relay team, comprised of Boutin from Sherbrooke, Que., St-Gelais from Saint-Felicien, Que., Kasandra Bradette, also from Saint-Felicien, and Jamie Macdonald from Fort St. James, B.C. on Sunday, and which included Valerie Maltais from Saguenay, Que., in earlier rounds, was penalized in the A final and took the fourth spot.

However, both teams unofficially and mathematically qualified for the 2018 Olympic Games based on the points in the standings they have collected over the first three World Cup stages of the season. The men won gold medals in each of the first two stages, while the women collected silver and bronze, in addition to picking up points for reaching Sunday's A final in Shanghai.

This has a direct affect on the Canadian Olympic short-track speedskating team that will travel to Pyeongchang, because it means the maximum of five men and five women from the provisional Olympic team will go to the Games.

"After having a tough time last season in the relay, we wanted to come back strong this season, and qualifying for the Olympics was our goal," said Samuel Girard, who will be competing at the Games for the first time. "It's great to know that we will go to South Korea together, all five of us."

On Sunday in the men's relay, Canadian and Chinese skaters fell after 17 laps out of a total of 45, resulting in Canada moving back to fourth place over 28 laps, but the Canadian team came back to overtake China at the finish line to earn bronze, ahead of the United States, who won gold, and South Korea, who collected silver. China was subsequently penalized by the officials.

In the women's relay, South Korea, China and Italy ended up on the podium in that order, ahead of Canada. Disqualification came at the end of the race, when St-Gelais had the baton.

In the women's 1,000 metres, Boutin earned her second gold medal of the weekend when she beat St-Gelais and Italy's Arianna Fontana. Boutin also won Saturday's 500 metres.

St-Gelais picked up her second podium finish of the weekend, after earning bronze in Saturday's 1,500 metres. She now has three medals this season, which includes the gold she won in the 500 metres in Dordrecht, Netherlands.

The Canadian Press

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