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Canadian women’s relay squad races to World Cup short track silver medal in Germany

The women’s relay team earned Canada’s lone medal Sunday at a World Cup short-track event in Dresden, Germany.

Engaged in a heated battle with their rivals from the Netherlands for the duration of the 3,000-metre race, Courtney Sarault of Moncton, N.B., Kim Boutin of Sherbrooke, Que., Fredericton’s Rikki Doak and Renee Steenge of Brampton, Ont., were unable to overtake the reigning Olympic champions, settling for hard-earned silver.

The Dutch (4:07.531) took lead from the Canadians (4:07.768) with eight laps left and never looked back, with Xandra Velzeboer successfully defending a pass attempt from Boutin after the final exchange to secure the top spot in four minutes 7.531 seconds.

Canada reached the finish in 4:07.768 for its fifth podium finish of the season (one gold, four silver) while the bronze medal went to Korea (4:08.238).

“Going into the final we knew it was going to be a good race and we were ready for it. There were a lot of small passes and blocks throughout the race, as well as change of speed which made it exciting and more tactical,” Steenge told Speed Skating Canada.

“During the middle of the race, a small gap was created and then it was just a battle of speed and good exchanges after that. The last World Cup will be exciting with Canada, Netherlands and Korea all tied with 340 points in the rankings.”

Meanwihle, it was a heartbreaking 5,000 final for the men’s relay squad, which placed fourth.

Pascal Dion, Maxime Laoun and William Dandjinou (all of Montreal) and Félix Roussel of Sherbrooke, Que., stopped the clock in 

They were knocked out of contention when Dion lost his balance and fell after an exchange. Despite regaining his footing, his loss of speed permitted Hungary to move into third. China earned gold (6:51.106) ahead of Japan (6:51.173) and the Hungarians (6:52.326).

In other races, Canada failed to win an individual distance medal on Sunday after Roussel earned his first international medal in an individual distance with 1,000 bronze while Courtney Sarault took bronze in the women’s 1,500.

Steven Dubois of Lachenaie, Que., narrowly missed the podium, placing fourth in the men’s 500 in 42.008 seconds.

The 25-year-old was blocked by Korea’s Tae Sung Kim while attempting an inside pass to move from second to first, causing him to lose his speed and fall out of contention.

Kim was penalized for the block, but the penalty had no impact on the final ranking. The medal podium featured China’s Lin Xiaojun (41.329) and Zhong Yuchen (41.549) along with Japan’s Kazuki Yoshinaga (41.750).

Canada finishes the World Cup season with the sixth and final event next weekend in Dordrecht, Netherlands. The short track world championships are scheduled for March 10-12 in Seoul.

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