Quebec Dominates Last Day of Short Track at Canada Games

Québec Short Track speed skaters dominated all races held to conclude their sport competition at the Halifax 2011 Canada Winter Games. Skaters from La Belle Province swept the podiums of both the men and women’s Super 1500m events, before capturing the two relay gold medals up for grabs.

The first final of the day was the women’s 1500m, featuring four skaters from Québec (Cynthia Mascitto, Ann-Véronique Michaud, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier and Élizabeth Albert) as well as two from British Columbia, Courtney Shmyr and Jesse Keca. Skaters spent the first few laps fighting for positions and with seven laps to go, Shmyr was leading the race, followed by Michaud and Harris-Gauthier. Michaud went in first place with a beautiful inside pass four laps before the end of the race. Mascitto then completed a long outside pass to get to the front, but Michaud claimed back the lead and the win in the last lap, crossing the finish first in a time of 2:31.149. Mascitto took silver in 2:31.292 and Harris-Gauthier won the bronze medal (2:31.561). Élizabeth Albert (2:31.777), Courtney Shmyr (2:31.970) and Jesse Keca (2:36.568) followed in that order.

Encouraged by their teammates, Maxime Gauthier, Alexandre St-Jean, Yoan Gauthier and Benoît Thériault lined up for their own final moments later, along with New Brunswick representatives Evan Brideau and Andrew Evans. Maxime Gauthier did not waste any time and he sprinted off the start line and tried to create a gap with the pack. Brideau and Evans made sure he couldn’t lap the pack by giving it a fast pace too, but with nine laps to go, as Gauthier was leading by a half lap, Yoan Gauthier went to the front of the pack, followed by Thériault. Maxime Gauthier started tiring and the pack was slowly catching up, but he was able to hold on to his lead to win the race in 2:17.183. Meanwhile, Alexandre St-Jean made his way to second place with a powerful outside pass in the last lap, and he captured the silver medal with a time of 2:18.369. Yoan Gauthier was able to secure his third place (2:18.463), while Benoît Thériault (2:19.110) finished fourth, followed by Evan Brideau (2:19.336) and Andrew Evans (2:25.977).

In the relay, Team Québec took the lead of the women’s race after nine laps, and they flew to the finish in 4:32.466. British Columbia captured the silver medal with a time of 4:34.517 and Team Ontario skated to bronze in 4:43.612. In the men’s final it was a similar scenario, with Team Quebec leading 26 of the 27 laps of the race and winning gold in 4:18.311. Team Ontario fought hard to remain second (4:19.632) as New Brunswick was trying to pass them, but it was too little to late, and New Brunswick had to settle for the bronze medal (4:21.438). Alberta finished fourth in 4:26.330.

Overall in the competition, Team Quebec captured 21 of the 30 medals up for grabs, including nine gold. British Columbia was the only other province to win a gold medal, and they are also taking home one silver and one bronze. New Brunswick had an impressive showing with one silver and three bronze medals, and Ontario was able to take one silver and one bronze.

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Québec dominates 1000m short track competition

Québec short track speed skaters captured five of the six medals up for grabs today in the 1000m short track speed skating competition at the Halifax 2011 Canada Winter Games. With four women from Québec in the final, the sweep was an obvious one. Élizabeth Albert started out in front, closely followed by teammates Ann-Véronique Michaud, Namasthée Harris-Gauthier and Cynthia Mascitto. With five laps to go in the race, Michaud made her way to the front, and Harris-Gauthier quickly passed inside to take the lead. Two laps later, Michaud passed again, on her way to her second gold medal of the Games. She crossed the finish line in 1:36.521, Harris-Gauthier captured the silver medal, in 1:36.648 and Albert took the bronze (1:37.522) while Mascitto had to settle for fourth place. Michaud now has two gold medals at these Canada Winter Games, while Harris-Gauthier has two silver and Albert has two bronze.

“I wanted to race from the start,” said Ann-Véronique Michaud afterwards. “I made sure to stay in first or second place the whole way, I knew that way I would be in control. I felt good physically during the race, and I’m really happy to come out of it with the gold.”

The men’s final also saw two Québec representatives at the start line, Maxime Gauthier and Yoan Gauthier, along with Charles Evans of New Brunswick and Vincent de Haître of Ontario. De Haître started out first, but with Maxime Gauthier, Yoan Gauthier and Evans closely behind. With six laps to go, Yoan took the lead and Maxime slipped into second position. The two skaters accelerated, creating a gap between them and the other two. Evans took third place with four laps to go. Meanwhile, Maxime Gauthier passed his teammate two laps before the end of the race and skated away to the gold medal with a time of 1:29.033. Yoan Gauthier followed for the silver medal in 1:29.663, while Charles Evans took the bronze (1:32.015) and Vincent de Haître finishes fourth (1:33.039).

This is Maxime Gauthier’s second gold medal in Halifax, as he picked up gold in the 1500m on Day 1. Yoan Gauthier also had a bronze medal from the 1500m, and this is a first medal for Charles Evans, who follows suit to brother Andrew who took silver in Monday’s 500m race.

“With two of us from Québec in the final, we wanted to be safe and not risk making each other fall,” explained Maxime Gauthier. “So we took the lead early enough and stayed safely there until the end.”

Races end tomorrow at St. Margaret’s centre, with the Super 1500m final and the relay finals. 

New Brunswick surprises in short track

The 500m final was a very eventful one at St. Margaret Centre on Day 2 of short track speed skating at the Halifax 2011 Canada Winter Games, and Québec’s Alexandre St-Jean came out of the race with a gold medal in a time of 43.308. He was closely followed at the finish line by Andrew Evans of New Brunswick in 43.633. Maxime Gauthier of Québec crossed the finish line in third place but was disqualified for impeding which allowed Evan Brideau, also of New Brunswick, to skate away with the bronze medal.

Evans and Brideau become the first two medalists of the Halifax 2011 Canada Winter Games for Team New Brunswick. “I feel really good,” said Andrew Evans, 17, after the race. “I didn’t expect to win a medal in this distance because of my slow start, but I’m very excited this happened. I’m hoping New Brunswick can get another medal in the relay final later this week.”

On the women’s side, the gold medal went to Courtney Shmyr of British Columbia, who completed the final in a time of 46.409. She was battling for first place for the entire race along with Québec’s Cynthia Mascitto, who won the silver medal thanks to her time of 46.515. Bronze went to Élizabeth Albert, also of Québec, who crossed the finish line in 46.683, and Keri Morrison of Ontario took fourth place. Morrison was quite happy with that result as well, as she broke her ankle earlier this fall and was only able to get back on the ice this past December. She is here racing in her second Canada Winter Games.

Shmyr’s gold medal was her second medal in Halifax, after she captured the bronze in Sunday’s 1500m race. That event was won by Ann-Véronique Michaud of Québec, and silver went to Namasthée Harris-Gauthier, also of Québec.

Québec had been dominant on Sunday, winning five of the six medals at stake in the 1500m, including a sweep for the men when Maxime Gauthier, Benoit Thériault and Yoan Gauthier crossed the finish line in that order.

Many of the medal winners so far, including Michaud, St-Jean, Shmyr and Gauthier, will represent Canada at next week’s World Junior Championships in Italy, so these victories are good confidence boosts for the athletes.