All Canadians advance through qualifying rounds at short track speed skating World Cup

Canadians advanced through the qualifying rounds in all three individual distances on Friday to open the final stop on the World Cup circuit in short track speed skating.

In men’s competition, Francois-Louis Tremblay of Montreal, Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Jean-Francois Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., advanced to the quarterfinals in the first men’s 500 metres and the men’s 1,000.

Marc-Andre Monette of Pointe-aux Trembles and Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., also advanced in the second men’s 500 and the 1,500.

Canada also won its opening 5,000-metre relay heat with the Monette brothers and Hamelin and Jean.

“The guys were very strong throughout,” said Canadian national team coach Martin Gagne. “It was probably the longest day of competition we’ve had this year. Whenever the events are in Europe there are always more entries which mean more rounds to go through. But we have some luck with the schedule because all our repechage races are in Sunday’s events, so we won’t have to get up early tomorrow (Saturday).”

The Canadian men competing this weekend are the same who’ll race at the world championships next month.

On the women’s side, 17-year-old Marianne St-Gelais of St-Felicien, Que., Anne Maltais of Quebec City and Jessica Gregg of Edmonton advanced to the quarterfinals in the first women’s 500. In the second 500, Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., is headed to the quarters while Gregg and Nita Avrith of Montreal must go through a repechage.

In the women’s 1,000, Ivanie Blondin, 16, of Ottawa and St-Gelais qualified directly for the quarters while Maltais heads to a repechage. Finally in the 1,500, Blondin, Avrith and Roberge all took a direct route to the quarters.

“It was Marianne’s first World Cup and she was impressive,” said Gagne. “She faced some very strong opponents in her race. She has a very bright future. And Ivanie also did very well. It’s really fun to see those two young talents.”

Two women’s world team members are not here this weekend. Amanda Overland of Montreal has recovered from an injury and has stayed home to train while Annik Plamondon of Longueuil is continuing her internship in nursing. St-Gelais and Maltais are replacing them.

The women’s relay gets underway Saturday.

Competition continues through to Sunday.