Bédard & Roberge win medals for Canada at short track speed skating World Cup

Eric Bédard earned his first individual medal in two years on the short track speed skating World Cup circuit while Kalyna Roberge stepped on the podium for the first time in her career to highlight Saturday’s 500-metre races for Canada.

In the men’s 500, Li Haonan of China took the gold in 42.583 seconds with Bédard, of Ste-Thecle, Que., second in 42.675 and Suk-Woo Song of South Korea third in 42.705. For Bedard, a nine-year national team member, it was his first individual World Cup medal since December 2003.

“It’s a great feeling to get back on the podium again, especially in an Olympic year,” said Bédard. “We’ve had two big weeks of training and we’re not suppose to be threatening for medals yet. To make finals and get a medal is great for the confidence.”

Bédard battled Haonan until the end for the gold.

“My blade bended a little on the last lap and that allowed him to get away,” said Bédard. “It was a great race. I showed I had the acceleration to make passes at high speed already which is very encouraging for the rest of the season.”

Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., a silver medallists Friday in the 1,500, was eliminated in the semifinal for eighth overall and Francois-Louis Tremblay of Montreal was ousted in the quarter final for 15th.

In the women’s 500, Meng Wang led China to a 1-2 finish in 44.736 with Tianyu Fu of China second in 44.774. Roberge, from Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., followed for the bronze in 44.797 and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., was also in the final placing fourth in 45.226. It was the first time this season, Canadian women were in an individual final.

“I couldn’t ask for better, I had a tough heat and semifinal in order to get to the final,” said Roberge, who says she is fully recovered from a thigh injury suffered at the Olympic team trials last month. “In the final I made a couple of passing attempts but the Chinese left no openings.”

Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal was eliminated in the quarterfinal for 10th.

Canada won its relay semifinal heats to advance to the finals. In the men’s 5,000 relay, the Canadians clocked 6:57.131 with Tremblay, Turcotte, Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal.

In the women’s 3,000 relay, the Canadians won their semi heat 4:17.729 with Roberge, Leblanc-Boucher, Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., and Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que.

Competition ends Sunday.