NEWS
11/06/2015 20:19 EST | Updated 11/06/2016 01:12 EDT

Nine Canadians qualify on first day of Toronto's World Cup speed skating

TORONTO — Olympic medalists Valerie Maltais, Marianne St-Gelais, Charles Hamelin and Charle Cournoyer led a group of nine Canadian skaters who had a perfect day in qualifying on Friday, the first day of the first ISU World Cup short track speed skating ever to be held in Toronto.

Maltais, from La Baie, Que., earned her spot in elimination rounds for the women's 1,500 metres that will take place Saturday, as well as for Sunday's 1000m. St-Gelais, from Saint-Felicien, Que., did the same in the 1,500 metres and the second 500 metre event of the weekend, slated for Sunday.

Hamelin, from Sainte-Julie, Que., qualified for both 500-metre events scheduled over the weekend — one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Counoyer, from Boucherville, Que., did the same in the 1,000 metre and 1,500 metre.

All four skaters will therefore have an opportunity to win two medals each, as will five others Canadian skaters: Samuel Girard of Ferland-et-Boilleau, Qc (qualified in both 500-metre events) and Calgary's Sasha Fathoullin — the first 500 metre and the 1,000 metre — on the men's side, as well as Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que., (1,500 metre and Sunday's 500 metre), Kasandra Bradette from Saint-Felicien, Que., (Saturday's 500 metre and the 1000 metre) and Jamie MacDonald of Fort St. James, B.C. (Saturday's 500 metre and Sunday's 1000 metre).

Patrick Duffy of Oakville, Ont., who is skating at a World Cup in his home province for the very first time, qualified for Saturday's 1,500-metre semifinals. Fourth in his heat in the 500 metres on Friday, he will need to go through the repechage heats in that distance, Sunday morning.

Audrey Phaneuf of Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., qualified for the semifinals of Sunday's 500-metre race, but was disqualified from Saturday's 500 due to a penalty. Francois Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, Que., was penalized and eliminated from Sunday's 1000, and will have to go through repechage heats in Saturday's 1,500 metres.

In the relay, the Canadian women's team — comprised of Maltais, St-Gelais, Bradette and Phaneuf — finished first in its heat and earned a spot in Saturday's semifinals.

The Canadian Press