Olympic short-track speedskater Valerie Maltais makes move to long track

Valerie Maltais rounds the track during a short track speed skating practice. (Paul Chiasson/CP)

CALGARY — Decorated short-track speedskater Valerie Maltais is switching gears to long-track version of her sport.

The three-time Olympian from Saguenay, Que., won a relay silver medal at the 2014 Olympic Games in short track.

After a decade of training in Montreal with the Canadian short-track squad, Maltais has relocated to Calgary’s Olympic Oval where the national long-track team is based.

"I’ve always thought that long track speed skating is a beautiful sport," Maltais said Tuesday in a statement from Speed Skating Canada.

"At my first Olympics in 2010 in Vancouver, I had tickets for the team pursuit event and the Canadian men’s team won gold. That’s when I started to follow long track more closely."

Short track’s objective is to beat competitors to the finish line, which often results in contact and crashes. Long track is a battle against the clock with two skaters racing in their own lanes.

"That type of race against time fascinates me and I want to try my luck at it," Maltais said. "At age 28 and after three Olympic cycles in short track, this new challenge gives me a chance at a fresh start."

There is often crossover between the two speedskating disciplines.

After winning a short-track relay gold in 2010, Olivier Jean switched to long track and earned a mass start bronze medal at the 2017 world single distance championship.

Maltais placed seventh in the women’s 1,000 metres in February at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She says her goal is to be on the national long-track team next year.

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