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“My goal was to come back to the Olympics in 2022 and I don’t want to just compete, I want to really have a shot for a medal. It was realistic for me to believe I could do it because we were going to have a new rink in my hometown of Quebec City, so it was going to be way easier for us to train there.
“But because of COVID, the delivery date for the rink has been postponed for a year. We’re supposed to be able to train and race in it right now but we won’t have it for another year, at least,” he said of the Centre De Glace, which was delayed by construction shutdowns during the pandemic and is now expected to open in September 2021.
“For me that was the game-changer. I knew that realistically speaking it wasn’t possible to aim for an Olympic medal without a rink to train in. I think I could see the big picture. COVID, I hope it’s going to be gone in a year, but you don’t know.”
He wasn’t prepared to move to Calgary to train at the oval there, so he pulled the plug and notified Speed Skating Canada of his decision about a month ago.
St-Jean, who started as a short-track skater and switched in 2013, leaves his sport with five long track World Cup medals; a silver in the 500-metres, as well as three gold and a silver as a team sprint competitor.
“The silver in the 500-metres in Inzell, Germany, that was my best performance ever. All the best skaters were there. But I think my biggest achievement for me was going to the Olympics, for sure. Everyone wants to be at the Olympics, and everyone wants to be at their best at the Olympics.”