Canada’s Francois-Louis Tremblay opens short track speed skating worlds with silver

There were thrills and spills in the men’s opening 1,500-metres on Friday and Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., emerged with the silver medal to open the world championships in short track speed skating.

In a final that pitted three Canadians and three South Koreans- the sport’s powerhouses- Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea earned his third consecutive world title at the distance clocking 2:14.396. Tremblay continued to build on a strong finish to the World Cup season to finish second in 2:14.992 and Seung Hoo Lee of South Korea was third in 2:15.244.

Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., both fell with four laps to go and placed fifth and sixth respectively. After the falls, Tremblay emerged with the lead but was caught by Ahn on the next lap.

“He (Ahn) surprised me with an outside pass,” said Tremblay, 24, an Olympic relay champion in 2002 who won four individual medals at the last two World Cups this season. “I was in a very good position to win the race and I wished that would have happened. But it’s going to be a big battle between the Canadians and Koreans this weekend.”

In his seventh year on the national team, Tremblay feels Canada is icing one of its best ever teams for the worlds.

“It’s the best group I’ve ever skated with,” said Tremblay. “Every member of the national team can win a race here and I’m pretty honored to be on the team and then on top of that be the one to get a medal today.”

In the women’s 1,500, Sun-Yu Jin led South Korea to a 1-2 finish clocking 2:20.461.

Canadian champion Amanda Overland of Cambridge, Ont., Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., and Kalyna Roberge of Levis, Que., were all eliminated in the semifinals. Overland and Kraus were fourth in their respective semifinal heats and Roberge was disqualified in another.

Overland’s semifinal heat included Jin, ranked number-one in the world at the distance, Olympic bronze medalist Evgenia Radanova of Bulgaria, they were 1-2 to advance to the final, and three-time world 1,500 champion Yang Yang of China, third in the heat.

“It was a difficult group to race with and devise a strategy to come out on top,” said Overland, whose breakthrough season also includes her first two career individual World Cup medals. “I got in the race, there was a lot passing and I probably should have relaxed more. I skated very well and I’m not disappointed.”

Canada advanced to the semifinals in both the men’s and women’s relays.

Competition continues through to Sunday.