February 22, 2018 6:49 pm
Updated: February 22, 2018 8:09 pm

Olympic success in short track speed skating an inspiration for Calgary athletes

WATCH: Canada won an impressive five medals in short track speed skating at the 2018 Olympics. Quebec’s Kim Boutin won three of the medals and as Kevin Smith reports, her teammates who train in Calgary are feeling motivated to qualify for the 2022 Games.

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Alison Desmarais and Geneve Belanger couldn’t wait to get to short track practice at the Olympic Oval in Calgary on Thursday.

This past week they’ve watched their friend and teammate Kim Boutin win three medals at the Olympics in Pyeongchang.

READ MORE: Kim Boutin wins silver in Olympic short track speed skating 

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“This is the first time I’ve been able to watch an Olympics and have teammates and friends at the Games,” Desmarais said.

“In the past years, it’s been people I look up to — and I still look up to these people — but it’s cool to know them on a personal level. That excitement definitely added to everything.”

The connection has made Desmarais’ Olympic dreams even stronger.

“This year, having people I know go there and people I’ve skated with growing up at the Olympics shows me that I can turn this dream into a reality.”

Belanger feels the same way.

“I’m actually really, really happy for Kim. I know she’s been working so hard.

“To be honest, it’s been really hard to watch the Olympics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy for everyone, but I’ve never wanted to go to the Olympics more, not only being there but winning medals and being one of the best short track skaters ever. Yeah, I’m more motivated than ever.”

READ MORE: Canada’s Kim Boutin wins bronze in women’s 1,500 metre short track speedskating 

Belanger grew up in Montreal, while Desmarais is from B.C. Both moved to Calgary to skate with Canada’s national development team based at the Olympic Oval, but they could soon be heading east.

“One day when they reach the national team level, we will encourage the skaters to go to Montreal to train with the higher-level skaters and to be with the relay teams and the World Championship teams and to train together,” said Mengyao Qi, the national short track development team coach.

READ MORE: Canada wins bronze in men’s Olympic short-track relay 

Canada’s five short track medals in this Winter Olympics are one shy of the Canadian record set at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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