Beijing Olympics: Brief-track speedskating and the way Quebec does circles round the remainder of Canada |


2022-02-05 15:30:04

There’s no denying it, Quebec is the true powerhouse in Canada relating to short-track speedskating.

Of the ten Canadians competing in short-track occasions on the 2022 Beijing Olympics, 9 hail from La Belle Province.

Main crew Canada are Olympic veterans Charles Hamelin, whose Winter Video games {hardware} contains three gold, one silver and a bronze; Kim Boutin, the one triple medalist in Pyeonchang in 2018; and Pascal Dion, who holds the 2021 World Cup title within the 1,000-metre distance.

Rounding out the crew from Quebec are Olympic rookies Steven Dubois, Maxime Laoun, Jordan Pierre-Gilles, Danaé Blais, Florence Brunelle and Alyson Charles. Courtney Sarault from Moncton, N.B., is the opposite crew member.

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With 5 medals to his title, Hamelin, a 37-year-old from Sainte-Julie, Que., is tied as Canada’s most embellished male Winter Olympian.

It’s an honour he shares with fellow velocity skaters Marc Gagnon and François-Louis Tremblay — each now retired and each from Quebec.

Click to play video: 'Beijing Olympics 2022: Canada names flag bearers for opening ceremonies'

Beijing Olympics 2022: Canada names flag bearers for opening ceremonies

Beijing Olympics 2022: Canada names flag bearers for opening ceremonies

Robert Dubreuil, director basic of the Quebec velocity skating federation, mentioned a number of elements clarify the province’s dominance of the game in Canada.

Now we have 50 golf equipment, so we now have a great base of opponents amongst these 6,000-plus members,” he mentioned.

Compared, Ontario and B.C. common about 25 golf equipment every with memberships of fewer than 3,000 skaters.

“So that you see the distinction, the 2 collectively, they don’t even complete Quebec,” Dubreuil mentioned. By having these numbers, we now have better competitions and a better circuit of competitions.”

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It has additionally allowed for the creation of regional coaching centres, once more growing the probabilities of producing high-level athletes.

It then turns into a circle that feeds itself, based on Dubreuil.

“When you have got outcomes, nicely, you curiosity extra individuals,” he mentioned.

And whereas not pretending to be an knowledgeable in socio-cultural issues — Dubreuil floated the concept that quick monitor would possibly simply be a sport that’s extra interesting to Quebecers.

“I’d say that it would match extra with the Latin blood,” he mentioned. “You understand, it’s a present, the quick monitor. It will get you emotion, a number of motion. It’s fast. It is likely to be nearer to the Latin tradition of Quebecers down to some extent.

Whatever the causes, Quebec’s dominance of the game isn’t something new.

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Since changing into an official Olympic self-discipline on the 1992 Video games in Albertville, solely 10 athletes from outdoors of Quebec have earned a spot on Workforce Canada.

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In 30 quick years, quick monitor has change into one of many nation’s most profitable Olympic winter sports activities with a medal rely of 33. It ranks second behind its cousin, long-track velocity skating, which has 37 medals.

Dubreuil remembers a time although when Quebec additionally dominated the oval in lengthy monitor. Anybody sufficiently old will bear in mind Gaétan Boucher skating to victory, not as soon as however twice in Sarajevo in 1984.

Out of 16 athletes competing in lengthy monitor on the 1988 Winter Video games in Calgary, 13 have been from Quebec based on Dubreuil.

By the point the subsequent Video games rolled round, that quantity fell to 2 out of 9. Dubreuil believes the arrival of a lined ice oval in Calgary in 1987 had lots to do with the drop.

In Quebec, athletes have been coaching on an outside oval.

“What it means with the climate, we have been skating solely 4 months as an alternative of with the ability to skate all yr lengthy,” Dubreuil mentioned, including the standard of the ice was additionally a difficulty.

Brief monitor doesn’t have those self same limitations.

Click to play video: '2018 Olympic athlete Charles Hamelin: Short track specialist eyeing history'

2018 Olympic athlete Charles Hamelin: Brief monitor specialist eyeing historical past

2018 Olympic athlete Charles Hamelin: Brief monitor specialist eyeing historical past – Feb 6, 2018

A model new coaching centre in Quebec Metropolis with indoor amenities for each lengthy and quick monitor, nonetheless, might result in the resurgence of long-track skaters from the province.

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That is among the goals of the federation, Dubreuil mentioned.

You understand we’re perhaps at 20 per cent now, however we consider in the long run with the quick monitor base we now have, that we might come again to 50 per cent for the lengthy monitor with out jeopardizing our quick monitor,” he mentioned. “We consider we now have sufficient expertise and sufficient skaters.”

The federation’s final objective although is to see the game develop, and never simply in Quebec.

“Even when we’re dominant in brief monitor, we’re all the time going to help in different provinces,” Dubreuil mentioned. “To be thought of a giant sport … you want competitors.”

“The worst-case situation is to dominate a lot that your sport will not be taken critically anymore.” 

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