Updated: February 23, 2019
Gatineau’s Cedrick Brunet captured two silver and one bronze medals as a long-track speed skater during the first week of the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, AB. Sportcom
The ultimate dream for long-track speed skater Cedrick Brunet is to compete at the Winter Olympic Games.
He was a Winter Olympics spectator at the 2010 Vancouver Games, where as a nine-year-old he was exposed to and embraced speed skating.
He’s quite familiar with family members — father, mother, aunt and uncle — representing Canada at the Olympics, their inspiring stories and their varying degrees of success and achievements.
But now he wants his turn to build on that family tradition. Brunet, 18, is heading in that direction, after winning two silvers and one bronze medal in his six races during the opening week of the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.
Brunet was one of three triple medal winners from the National Capital Region squad, while representing Quebec during the opening week of the Games. There was no competition Saturday as the first week’s athletes headed home to make room for the competitors of the second week. Competition is scheduled to resume Sunday.
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Gatineau artistic swimmer Mikaelle Gauthier and Ottawa table tennis player Ann Shiao also earned three trips to the podium to highlight the region’s first-week showing of one gold, 10 silver and four bronze medals.
Quebec has a commanding lead in the medal table after the first week with 31 gold, 27 silver and 27 bronze for 85 total. Alberta is second (16-17-11-44) and Ontario is third (8-20-14-42).
The Games are the breeding ground for the future wave of Canada’s high-performance athletes, who will represent Canada at multi-sport Games, such as the Olympics.
“I want to go to the Olympics because it’s a family thing,” said Brunet, who won his silver medals on the second day of speed skating in the 500 metres (a two-race combined time of 1:15.27, winning the first race in 37.46 seconds) and 3,200-metre team pursuit (4:16.28). He earned bronze on the final day in a re-run of the 4,000-metre mass start (5:46.565).
“This experience prepares you to be a top athlete. I’ve got my father telling me what to do and my aunt and uncle are helping me to get setup to be a high-performance athlete.”
Six-time Canadian silver medallist Michel Brunet, who is Cedrick’s father, competed at the 1998 Olympics in figure skating’s ice dance with Chantal Lefebvre. His mother Brigitte Gauthier has attended five Winter Games as a physiotherapist for the freestyle skiing team.
Cedrick’s aunt is Jennifer Heil, who won gold and silver medals, respectively, at the 2006 and 2010 Games in women’s freestyle skiing moguls. His uncle and Heil’s husband is Dominick Gauthier, who was a freestyle skiing coach at the 1998 Olympics.
Gatineau’s Cedrick Brunet captured two silver and one bronze medals as a long-track speed skater during the first week of the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, AB.Sportcom
Cedrick Brunet’s on-ice performance was remarkable. Skating on an outdoor oval was a relatively new experience for him as he is more accustomed to training short-track speed skating in an arena. But he managed to handle the cold and wind, wearing a neck warmer for extra protection.
“It was completely different. But I focused on myself … and didn’t think about the cold and wind,” said Brunet, who had to contend with a temperature of minus-29C one day.
Unlike Brunet, Gauthier and Shiao crafted their success in the warmth of a pool and gym, respectively.
Gauthier, who moved to Dollard Synchro in Montreal three years ago because of its national program and strong coaching, was a model of consistency. She was the silver medallist in solo (157.5852 points), duet with Audrey Veilleux of Saint-Jerome (155.8312), and in team.
“I swam very well and I’m happy with the results,” said Gauthier, who was seeded fourth in singles. “We worked on all of our routines since June and all the work paid off.
“I’m not disappointed I didn’t win gold. I swam my best performances.”
Shiao battled her way to the medal podium for three silvers in her three competitions. Ontario opened the team event losing to Quebec and British Columbia before defeating Saskatchewan and Quebec to reach the gold-medal match. B.C. defeated Ontario 3-1 in the final.
In singles, Shiao, who is coached by former Olympian Lijuan Geng and her husband, former international player Horatio Pintea, at the Geng Table Tennis Academy, turned back two-thirds of the strong B.C. team, but lost to Benita Zhou in the final, 11-3, 11-9, 13-15, 11-4.
Shiao, a member of the national table tennis shadow squad and junior 18 team, and Jin Wu, who played in the 2015 Canada Winter Games for Saskatchewan, were silver medallists in women’s doubles, falling to British Columbia’s Jiayi Nie and Zhou 11-9, 11-5, 11-3.
“I did a lot of mental preparation before the Games,” Shiao said. “I tried to take the pressure off myself and focus on doing my best.”
Quebec won its first ringette gold medal at the Games and Gatineau Fusion players Sara Plouffe (captain, opening ceremony flagbearer), Julie Vandal and Melissa Demers shared in the celebration, after edging undefeated Ontario 4-3 in overtime.
Vandal, who was the Games’ top point scorer with 11 goals and 13 assists, scored the game-winning goal in overtime on a powerplay. Plouffe ranked third on the scoring list with 10 goals and 11 assists.
“We worked so hard all week for this medal,” Plouffe told Sportcom. “This moment is indescribable.”
Ontario’s silver-medal-winning roster included Ottawa’s Emma Kelly, who scored eight goals and added four assists in seven preliminary and playoff games, Ottawa’s Liza Roik (3-5-8), Kanata’s Marta Matuszewski (1-2-3), Arnprior’s Paige Miller (6-6-12) and Ottawa’s Rachael Pelisek (played in three games as a goalkeeper, 2-0).
Oliver Holder picked up the National Capital Region’s other gold medal, when he helped Quebec to a first-place finish in the men’s 3×7.5-kilometre biathlon relay.
Quebec won its first men’s hockey gold medal at the Games since 1987, shading Ontario 4-3 in overtime.
Accepting silver medals were Ontario associate captains Brandt Clarke of Ottawa (two goals, seven assists for nine points in six games) and Connor Lockhart of Kanata (4-3-7), Mason McTavish of Pembroke (2-2-4), Isaac Enright of Cobden (0-2-2) and Patrick Leaver of Perth (played one game as a goalkeeper, 1-0).
“Unfortunate outcome finishing second, but still an amazing experience from top to bottom,” Clarke posted on Twitter. “I just want to thank everyone who helped put it together as these memories we’ve made will truly stick with me for the rest of my life.”
The National Capital region’s other silver medallists were Piaper Veinotte, Chelsea, Team Quebec, women’s 3×6-kilometre biathlon relay; and Sabrina Chen, Ottawa, Team Ontario, table tennis mixed doubles.
Coming home with bronze medals were Lucas Craston of Ottawa in boxing men’s 60 kilograms; Noah Bouma of Ottawa in long-track speed skating men’s team pursuit; and Jade Warren and Emma Fox, Ottawa, on the artistic swimming team.