Canada’s Samuel Girard wins gold in 1,000m short track

Arash Madani explains how Kim Boutin and Samuel Girard did Canada proud when they picked up two medals on day eight at the Winter Olympics.

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — The torch has been passed.

As Charles Hamelin and Marianne St-Gelais wrap up their Olympic careers at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, they can rest assured Canada’s successful short-track speedskating program is in good hands with rising stars Samuel Girard and Kim Boutin taking over.

The youth movement continued Saturday. Girard raced to gold in the men’s 1,000 metres — the only Olympic short-track event in which Hamelin doesn’t own a medal — while Boutin earned her second bronze of the Games in the women’s 1,500.

Hamelin and St-Gelais, competing in their last Olympics, didn’t figure into Saturday’s medal races. St-Gelais was eliminated in her 1,500 semifinal after incurring a penalty in a second straight race, while Hamelin’s disqualification in the 1,000 semi actually advanced Girard into the final.

While the lack of individual results so far in Pyeongchang is disappointing for Hamelin, a three-time Olympic champion, and St-Gelais, who owns three Olympic silver medals, Canada’s first couple of short track has shown genuine enthusiasm for their medal-winning teammates, who are both Olympic debutantes.

St-Gelais, who has described herself as a "mother figure" to Boutin, gave the 23-year-old from Sherbrooke Que., a joyful hug after her second straight third-place finish. After his win, Girard leapt into the pads surrounding the rink at the Gangneung Ice Arena, where Hamelin was waiting to give the 21-year-old from Ferland-et-Boilleau, Que., a playful slap on the helmet.

Canada’s short-track medals on Day 8 of competition put the nation back on track after a lacklustre seventh day, where Canadian athletes were kept off the podium and the news was dominated by curler Rachel Homan’s controversial loss to Denmark.

Homan’s team rebounded Saturday to pick up its first win of the Games with an 11-3 rout of the United States.

Also Saturday, figure skating star Patrick Chan finished ninth in his Olympic swan song, Canada’s men’s hockey team lost a thriller against the Czech Republic, 3-2 in a shootout, and Kevin Koe’s curling team lost for the first time in Pyeongchang when it was defeated 5-2 by Sweden.

Skating to Jeff Buckley’s haunting "Hallelujah," Chan, the three-time world champion from Toronto scored 173.42 points for an overall score of 263.43.

He opened with a beautiful quadruple toe loop, but tripled his second quad jump in a shaky skate.

Chan was sixth in Friday’s short program after he fell on his triple Axel.

The Canadian, who is retiring, ends his career with an Olympic silver in the men’s event from the 2014 Games and a team gold won earlier in Pyeongchang.

"This is the best Olympic experience out of the three, because I was in control," he said. "I was not dying out of breath."

It was a 1-2 finish for Japan, with two-time world champion Yuzuru Hanyu earning 206.17 points in the free skate for a total of 317.85 and the gold medal.

Shoma Uno took silver with a total score of 306.90, while Spain’s Javier Fernandez was third with 305.24.

The 27-year-old Chan took a season off after his heartbreaking silver medal at the Sochi Olympics, but his comeback hasn’t been what he envisioned.

"My career has had a lot of challenges like this and I think I can learn a lot more from having a lot of ups and downs," he said. "But today my goal was to land both Axels and get them solid. I am happy I landed on my feet on both of those."

Chan was responsible for launching the quad brigade as one of the first skaters to include two quads in his long program. But once so dominant, he returned from his year off to find his competition had left him eating their high-flying dust.

Keegan Messing of Sherwood Park, Alta., was 12th, finishing with a total score of 255.43.

Meanwhile, freestyle skier Dara Howell, a gold medallist in women’s slopestyle four years ago in Sochi, finished a disappointing 21st.

The 23-year-old from Huntsville, Ont., who admitted she tore a knee ligament in November, is already looking ahead to 2022.

"My dad is going to kill me. I just said to him: ‘OK I’ve gotta go four more years,"’ an emotional Howell said with a laugh. "I think every Olympics is a different experience and you learn so much along the way. We’ll see but I just don’t think I’m done.

"I still have stuff to prove to myself."

Yuki Tsubota of Whistler, B.C., was the top Canadian — and the only one of three to make the final. She placed sixth with a score of 74.40 points.

Kim Lamarre of Lac Beauport, Que., the bronze medallist from Sochi, was 22nd.

Back on the ice, the Canadian men’s hockey team suffered its first loss of the tournament.

Wojtek Wolski scored for Canada in the shootout while Maxim Lapierre, Derek Roy, Rene Bourque and Maxim Noreau missed. Noreau actually beat goalie Pavel Francouz with Canada’s final shot but the puck bounced off the goalpost.

Petr Koukal and Jan Kouvar were successful for the Czechs against Ben Scrivens.

Mason Raymond and Bourque scored for Canada, which wraps up preliminary-round play Sunday against South Korea. Bourque now has three goals at the tournament.

Dominik Kubalik and Michal Jordan scored in regulation time for the Czechs, who edged South Korea 2-1 in their opener.

Canada opened the tournament with a 5-1 over Switzerland.

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