2007 Winter Universiade: short track speed skating - Canada disqualified in both relay finals, misses out on medals

The Canadian Men’s and Women’s Short Track Speed Skating teams entered their final day of competition at the 23rd Winter Universiade with hopes of capturing a medal in the Men's 5000 meter Relay Race and the Women's 3000 meter Relay Race.

The day started well as Canada qualified in both semi-finals, the Men with a time of 7.06.064 were second in their heat to China and had posted the third best time overall in the two heats leading up to the final.

The Women had posted a time of 4.28.567 and were also in second place in their semi-final heat.

The final started off great for the Women, the team of Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), Nita Avrith (Montreal, QC), Annik Plamondon (Montreal, QC) and Anne Maltais (Montreal, QC) was second behind the Korean team for most of the relay until disaster struck. In the final lap, Maltais slipped and fell down and slid across the finish line disqualifying Team Canada from earning a medal.

The Koreans also fell and were disqualified as well, leaving China with the FISU Gold Medal, Japan with the Silver Medal and no Bronze Medal was awarded.

“It was sad to see all their hard work go for nothing,” said Team Leader Yves Hamelin. “The team worked very hard and actually had second place in sight when Anne fell.”

While clearly disappointed in the athletes’ room, Maltais was proud of her team.

“We remained calm throughout the race, keeping the Japanese at a distance, they were the team to beat for us. But with 12 laps to go, the Coreans fell in front of us during the exchange, which caused Jessica (Gregg) to be very wide when entering the turn, and opened the door for the Japanese,” explained Canada’s lone medalist in short track speed skating in Torino following a third-place finish in the 500 metres.

“On the last exchange, I managed to pass the Japanese and on the last turn, as she was trying to get me back, I had to do everything in my power to resist her. I leaned back on my heels and fell at the finish line, and I was disqualified for kicking,” added Maltais, a doctorate student at Laval University.

The Men were also in medal contention against Korea and China when Mathieu Giroux (Montreal, QC) went to touch Michael Gilday for the exchange (Yellowknife, NT) when he lost his balance and knocked into the racer from Team Italy, disqualifying Team Canada from earning a relay medal.

Korea won the Gold, China the Silver and Italy received the Bronze Medal.

Remi Beaulieu (Montreal, QC) and Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Montreal, QC) were also on the men’s relay team.

“I actually think we were robbed in that race,” said Giroux. “Following a powerful push by Guillaume (Blais-Dufour), my only option was to pass (Italian rival) Confortola on the inside and he shut down the door, forcing me into a maximum inclination. The ice broke under my skate and I fell, taking the Italian with me. I don’t think it called for a disqualification.”

“The level of competition at these games is amazing and the atmosphere was unbelievable,” continued the University of Montreal student. “I’m pretty sure it was close to the atmosphere at last year’s Olympics held right here in Torino. I think our federation will have to prioritize these games in the future because they represent a great development opportunity for our team, even though we just had our national selections last weekend. I felt prepared to perform well.”

“I had problems with my blades all week but still managed to reach the semis in all my races. I’m pretty proud of myself.”

“The level of competition was indeed extremely high and this will serve as a great preparation for the worlds in march,” concluded Maltais.

Visit the FISU Torino Web Site for the complete results and schedules:
www.universiadetorino2007.org