Blais-Dufour & St-Gelais win medals at short track speed skating world juniors

BOLZANO, Italy- Guillaume Blais-Dufour of Quebec City and Marianne St-Gelais of St-Félicien, Que., won silver and bronze medals in their respective 500-metre races on Saturday at the short track speed skating world junior championships.

In the men’s 500, Sung-Ju Lee of South Korea earned the gold medal in 42.453 seconds, edging Blais-Dufour in second at 42.605. Satoshi Sakashita of Japan was third in 42.738.

‘’I think the key for me in the final was keeping my composure,’’ said Blais-Dufour, fifth in Friday’s 1,500. ‘’I was in fourth place at one point in a pressure race and I stayed calm and managed my stress well. Before the competition started this week my goal was a top-five and after yesterday I felt I could get a medal. So my objectives are changing daily.’’

Maxime Fortin of Riviere-du-Loup, Que., was eliminated in the quarterfinals and ranked 13th while Vincent Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., was ousted in the prelims.

After two of four races, Lee leads the overall standings with 55 points, Yun-Jae Kim of South Korea is second at 34 and Blais-Dufour third at 26. Cournoyer is is seventh and Fortin 12th.

In the women’s 500, Qichao Zhang of China took the gold in 45.296, Elise Christie of Britain was second in 45.452 and St-Gelais followed in third in 45.497. St-Gelais appeared headed for silver but slipped on the last turn.

‘’I was confident I could reach the final in the 500,’’ said St-Gelais, who also posted a personal best time. ‘’But I’m still surprised with the result. I’m very pleased. There were no Koreans in the final but it was still a very strong field. I knew the Chinese and Italian girls were going to be tough. But I felt I was also one of the contenders.’’

Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau of Montreal was eliminated in the semifinals and ranked seventh while Valérie Lambert of Sherbrooke, Que., didn’t get past the second round.

With the victory, Zhang now leads the overall standings with 47 points after two of four races. St-Gelais stands sixth and Mendes-Campeau seventh.

Both Canadian men’s and women’s relay team advanced to the finals placing second in their respective semifinal heats.

Competition ends Sunday.