Hometown hero Kim Boutin continued her strong start to the 2019/20 World Cup season, all but taking the roof off Montreal's Maurice Richard Arena as she powered to the 1000m gold medal on Saturday.
Boutin, who broke the 500m world record and won gold medals in the 500m and 1500m individual events in the World Cup's season premiere in Salt Lake City last weekend, said the home fans gave her extra strength as she surged past Korean pair Seo Whi Min and Kim Alang in the sixth lap, keeping an iron grip on her lead for the remainder of the race.
Kim Boutin (CAN) was a popular winner at the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating in Montreal 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
"When I passed both the Koreans I heard the crowd and that was amazing," said Boutin, who crossed the line ahead of Seo and China's Fan Kexin.
The 24-year-old, who hails from Sheerbrooke 170km east of Montreal, admitted that her strong results from Salt Lake City brought added pressure as she came into the second World Cup stop as a big home favourite.
Boutin, who spent time in the Netherlands over the close season honing her technique, said: "It was a hard challenge for me to focus on what I had to do to succeed and not focusing on the results. I think it's going to be a challenge for the whole season.
"Of course [there was an extra pressure] to come back and be strong. It's hard and stressful but I just need to focus on being calm."
Canada's Boutin celebrates her success 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Fontana fights back
Taking silver in the women's 1500m event behind Korea's Kim Ji Yoo, returning Olympic champion Arianna Fontana completed a 19-month journey back to the Short Track podium after a year away from the sport.
"It feels great," the 29-year-old said. "Last weekend I was a little bit surprised that I was still able to be in the final. Before I left [Europe], my coach Anthony [Lobello] asked me what my goal is and I said that if I can be top-eight or top-10, making it to the A or B final, that would mean that I'd still be able to race and get more feel for it.
"Even though I'm not 100 per cent yet, to still be able to fight with the best skaters in the world, and today win a medal... it feels great.
"I just came here to see at what point I am with my preparations and it seems like we're doing pretty good."
Arianna Fontana (ITA): "Not yet 100 per cent", but good enough for silver in Quebec 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Republic of Korea dominates individual events
But while Boutin and Fontana won plenty of cheers, Republic of Korea started the weekend in ominous form, winning three of Saturday's four individual gold medals.
Hwang Dae Heon finished first in the Men's 1000m - repeating his feat of last week and joining Boutin with three individual World Cup golds so far this season - while Park Ji Won led the Men's 1500m final for the last six laps, taking his second World Cup victory in the event after his triumph in Dresden, Germany, in February 2016.
"I'm very, very, very happy. This was my comeback to 1500m," Park said. "I knew I could do this and that's something I kept thinking to myself throughout the race.
"Now I want to become No.1 in every event this season."
Park Ji Won (KOR, left), was one of three Republic of Korea gold medallists on Saturday 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
Disappointment for Schulting and the Netherlands as China take Mixed Relay gold
The Koreans' dominance did not extend to the Mixed 2000m relay, though, with China racing to the gold medal ahead of Russia. Republic of Korea had to settle for third place in a final where the Netherlands failed to reach the podium following a fall from Suzanne Schulting.
It proved to be a frustrating afternoon's racing for last year's overall world champion, who won the 1000m title in Salt Lake City with a personal best last weekend. She also missed the final in her favourite event, the 1000m, after crashing out of the semifinal.
China took gold in the Mixed 2000m relay, with Russia second and Republic of Korea third 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
'It was magical': Dubois delighted at silver success
There were more smiles in the Canada camp, where Steven Dubois celebrated his 1000m second place like a gold medal, crediting the crowd in Maurice Richard Arena for his best-ever time of 1 minute, 26.739 seconds.
"It is the best feeling there is, especially since it's my best medal in my worst distance," the Montreal-based 22-year-old said. "When I started my pass on the outside I was third or fourth, then I heard the crowd yelling and it just gave me a boost. It was magical."
Inspired by teammate Boutin's success and a collection of strong newcomers in the Canadian team, Dubois has high hopes for the rest of the season.
Steven Dubois (CAN) - a personal best and a silver medal in Men's 1000m 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)
"Kim [Boutin] is just too strong; it feels like there's no competitor [for her]. We're going to do some really good things over the next years.
"We usually have some great results towards the end of the year so if we are getting this in the beginning I wonder what's next."
Racing in Montreal continues on Sunday from 10:35, including finals in the Men's and Ladies' 500m, 1000m (2), Ladies' 3000m relay and Men's 5000m relay.
Where to watch and follow the ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating 2019/20
Viewers will be able to watch via their national broadcaster/channel. For countries where there are no broadcasters, the ISU will offer a live stream on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. You will find the full list in the Where to watch news here.
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For further information on ISU Short Track Speed Skating visit : https://www.isu.org/short-track.
ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating Series events 2019/20
The World Cup series consists of nine distances 500, 1000 and 1500 meters for Ladies and Men, Ladies 3000 meters Team Relay, Men 5000 meters Team Relay and a Mixed Gender Relay over 2000 meters.
The competitions have a single distance character and are held in separate sessions over three days. Day 1 is dedicated to all Qualifying Rounds. Days 2 and 3 the last Qualifying Rounds (if necessary) take place, followed by the World Cup sessions.
For the Mixed Gender Relay Teams (2 Ladies & 2 Men), the Ladies 3000 meters Relay races and Men 5000 meters Relay races a maximum of four Skaters shall compete and must belong to the same ISU Member.