It was a changing of the guard at the Canadian short track speed skating championships on Sunday as 23-year-old Courtney Sarault and 22-year-old William Dandjinou were crowned women's and men's champions in Montreal.
Sarault of Moncton, N.B., finished with 19,000 points across her four best distances, which just edged 28-year-old Kim Boutin's 18,000 points and 19-year-old Florence Brunelle's 13,960 points.
Across the three-day event, Sarault earned a pair of gold medals in the 1,000-metre races, a gold in the 500, and a silver and bronze in the two 1,500 races, both won by Boutin.
"It feels amazing to win the overall title," Sarault said in a news release. "Coming into the competition, I knew I wanted to be battling for the title, but I wasn't sure if my legs would hold up. I have been working hard this summer and felt my legs were pretty loaded from training, so I'm really proud of myself for pulling this off."
Sarault was able to secure the overall victory in the second 1,000 race on Sunday, where her time of one minute 32.805 seconds narrowly topped Boutin's time of 1:32.990.
"I had a bit of an extra boost on the last day," said Sarault. "I got out of my head and stopped worrying about everything, and it paid off. The 500 didn't go as planned in the morning but I used that as fuel and tried to end things on a good note in the 1,000, which I managed to do."
The three-time defending national champion Boutin finished no worse than second in all six of her events, each of which she has medalled in across the 2018 and 2022 Olympic Games.
Sarault attended the 2022 Olympics, where she narrowly missed the podium in the women's 3,000 relay with a fourth-place finish, and has won seven total medals (three silver, four bronze) during her international skating career at the world championships.
Dandjinou makes mark in men's event
While Sarault was able to put an end to a three-year streak by Boutin, Dandjinou of Sherbrooke, Que., was able to do the same to 26-year-old Steven Dubois, outscoring the Terrebonne, Que., native 19,000-18,000.
The main difference ended up being Dandjinou sweeping the pair of 1,500 races on the weekend with Dubois taking silver in both. Dandjinou's time of 2:17.407 in the second race beat Dubois by just 0.168 seconds.
The 1,500 is an event Dubois won silver in at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, adding to his bronze in the 500, and gold in the men's 5,000 relay — a team that included Pascal Dion, who finished third on Sunday with 11,520 points.
"It's really big," Dandjinou said in a news release. "I don't have the words right now. I just want to live in the moment. I had good preparation and it paid off. There were several moments at the start of the competition where I just wanted to get as many points as possible."
The clinching moment came Sunday in the second 1,000, where Dandjinou's time of 1:25,592 beat Dubois's mark of 1:26.092.
"After my first two victories, I saw that it was possible to go for the Canadian title, said Dandjinou, who celebrated his birthday on Sunday. "This last day, I saw it as all or nothing. I had already qualified for the World Cups and had the chance to win it all, and I went for it."
Dandjinou has won one medal on the World Cup circuit, which he claimed in Dordrecht, Netherlands, during the 2021/22 season in the men's 5,000 relay.
The International Skating Union (ISU) World Cup short track circuit begins on Oct. 20 in Montreal.