MONTREAL — Three-time Olympic gold medallist Charles Hamelin will lead a veteran Canadian short-track speedskating team to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The native of Sainte-Julie, Que., is one of 10 athletes and two coaches provisionally selected to Canada’s team, the Canadian Olympic Committee and Speed Skating Canada announced in a joint release Wednesday.
Hamelin, who has also won 10 world championship gold medals over his decorated career, topped the podium in the men’s 500 metres and helped Canada win the men’s 5,000-metre relay at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Hamelin, who finished first in the 1,500 metres four years later in Sochi, Russia, said the addition of his partner, Marianne St-Gelais, and his brother Francois to the team Wednesday will allow him to fulfil his dream of skating with them at the Olympics once more.
“It’s difficult hoping for that because there are so many imponderables,” said the 33-year-old.
“Marianne got injured along the way but fortunately she had a lifeline with the discretionary pick. So, to have them with me for my third consecutive Games will be a lovely page of history. It will end the book in such incredible fashion.”
Besides the Hamelins, the athletes on the team are: Kim Boutin (Sherbrooke, Que.); Kasandra Bradette (Saint-Felicien, Que.); Charle Cournoyer (Boucherville, Que.); Pascal Dion (Montreal); Samuel Girard (Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que.); Jamie Macdonald (Fort St. James, B.C.); Valerie Maltais (La Baie, Que.); and St-Gelais (Saint-Felicien).
Most of the skaters were selected following the 2018 short track team selections held Aug. 12-20 in Montreal, while four were added Wednesday.
“It will be an honour for me not only to represent Canada at my first Olympic Games, but also to compete alongside veterans like Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais,” Girard said.
“They will definitely be an inspiration for me heading to Pyeongchang, where I hope to prove that the next generation of skaters are ready to take the torch and replicate performances from the 2018 short track team selections.”
Frederic Blackburn (Saguenay, Que.) and Derrick Campbell (Cambridge, Ont.) were named head coaches of the women’s and men’s teams, respectively.
Canada has won 28 short-track speedskating medals since its official debut at the 1992 Albertville Games.
Campbell described the team as a “good mix.”
“We’ve got some veterans who are still there and they bring that experience and leadership to the group,” he said. “We have some young guys like Samuel and Pascal.
“The one thing about this team is it’s a tight group. In terms of team dynamic, it’s very positive. They all support each other. They all work very well together. They all trust each other.”