Short Track Canadian Junior Championship Saguenay 2008 - A special flavor to this year’s event

Everything is set for an interesting battle in Saguenay as the top junior short track speed skaters in the country prepare to take part in the Short Track Canadian Junior Championship on Saturday and Sunday December 20 and 21 at the Centre Georges-Vézina.

The Centre Georges-Vézina has already hosted three World Cups since it was refurbished in 2003, and it is ready to host one more important event this weekend. The Canadian Junior Championship is the only selection event to determine the athletes who will represent Canada at the 2009 ISU World Junior Short Track Championships to be held in Sherbrooke in January. This year, the event will be even more exciting for skaters, as they will get a chance to skate in front of their own families and friends, one more reason for athletes to want to make the team.

On the women side, keep an eye out for Montreal’s Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau and two local athletes, Valérie Maltais and Marianne St-Gelais, as they are among the favorites for a spot on the four women team. St-Gelais has had an excellent start to this season, with a silver medal in the 500m at the Vancouver World Cup last October. Dolbeau native Laurie Marceau is also to watch, as she has been showing great performances over the last few years.

Guillaume Blais-Dufour is the favorite on the men side. The Québec athlete won a silver medal in the 500m at last year’s World Junior Championships in Bolzano, Italy, where he finished 4th overall. Other experienced junior skaters to watch are Maxime Fortin of Rivière-du-Loup, as well as Charle Cournoyer and Antoine Gélinas-Beaulieu, from Montréal. Last night, Gélinas-Beaulieu was selected as the male athlete (Québec level) of the year at the Gala Sports-Québec, one more source of motivation for the young athlete.

Athletes will skate the 500m, 1000m and 1500m through the weekend. Competition starts at 9am tomorrow at the Centre Georges-Vézina in Saguenay.