Marianne St-Gelais capped a glorious day on the ice for Canada leading home teammate Kim Boutin in a one-two in the women’s 500m A Final at the Audi ISU World Cup in Dordrecht, Netherlands
The 27-year-old, two-time Olympian was in imperious form from the start, quickly over-hauling Boutin, as the pair left bronze medallist Martina Valcepina (ITA) trailing. For St-Gelais, it is a stepping stone on the road to her ultimate aim.
“You have to think about PyeongChang 2018 every move, every step is for the Games,” she said. “We don’t have many races left against our opponents, so when you have the shot, you have to take it.
“I like it, I like having the Games in mind. I wake up every morning knowing it is my last shot. It doesn’t stress me, it gives me wings. I don’t want any regrets.”
Compatriot Boutin was understandably happy to grab on to the coat tails of such inspiring motivation.
“I love racing with her (St-Gelais). She is so strong and when she is in front it’s always nice. We train together and race together,” Boutin said, before revealing that she is now a name to be feared in the 500m.
“It was only my fifth time racing in the 500m, I’ve no experience in it. So that was really cool. And it’s a good step for Canada, I am so proud to be racing for my country,” she added.
Home favourite Yara van Kerkhof (NED) fell early in the race, leaving Valcepina free in third.
It was a race in which absentees cast somewhat of a shadow. The 1500m gold medallist and 500m winner from last week’s World Cup stop in Budapest, Choi Min Jeong (KOR) missed out on a place in the final after being penalised in the first semi-final.
Meanwhile, this year’s 1000m, 1500m and overall ISU World Champion Elise Christie (GBR) was unable to start her quarter-final earlier in the day due to injury.
“I hurt my thigh racing last weekend (in Budapest) and I haven’t been able to skate really,” said Christie, who fell in her opening 1500m semi-final. “It’s very weak. It hurts as soon as I go in the racing position. I tried but I couldn’t do it.”
The British racer will return home for treatment but expects to be fit for the next World Cup event in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, in November.
Only three skaters contested the B Final, with FAN Kexin of China emerging victorious.