Canadian men & women advance to finals at short track team worlds

The Canadian men posted a perfect score and the Canadian women dominated the repechage round as both squads advanced to the finals in qualifying round action at the world team championships in short track speed skating.

In the team event, there are heats in the 500, 1,000 and 3,000 metres and a relay. There is a skater from each country in each heat. The winner in each heat earns five points for his country, second place three and third place one. Relay points are doubled.

In men’s competition, Canada earned the maximum 58 points to finish first in its bracket to qualify directly for the final. Italy was second in the bracket at 26 points followed by China at 24. Canadians won all the 500 and 1,000-metre heats, placed 1-2 in the 3,000 race and took first spot in the 5,000-metre relay.

“We’re pretty proud of our performance but only half the job is done,” said Olympic medallist Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., who won his three individual races (500, 1,000 and 3,000). “We built some confidence today with some quality racing and our goal is to carry that to the final.”

Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., each won their 500 and 1,000 metre races while Eric Bédard of Ste-Thecle, Que., and Steve Robillard of Montreal won a 500 and 1,000 respectively. Tremblay, Turcotte, Robillard and Bédard formed the relay.

South Korea, the defending champions, won the other bracket with 54 points while China and Japan were 1-2 in the repechage. Those three countries join Canada, runners-up last year, in Sunday’s final.

On the women’s side, Canada was third in its opening bracket but cameback with a stellar performance to win the repechage, including a clean sweep of all four 500 races and finish 49 points to advance to the final. Japan was second in the repechage at 34 points to also advance. China and South Korea took the opening brackets.

In the repechage, Amanda Overland earned wins in her 500 and 1,000-metre heats along with second in the 3,000. Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., were both first in their 500 and second in their 1,000 heats, Kalyna Roberge of Levis, Que., won her 500 and was sixth in the 3,000 and Tania Vicent of Montreal won her 1,000 heat. Overland, Vicent, Kraus and Leblanc-Boucher then joined forces to win the 3,000-metre relay.

“We’re going into the final with a lot of confidence,” said Kraus, a member of last year’s fourth place team. “In the first round the Chinese frustrated us with some interference that wasn’t called by the officials but still that showed they can be beaten. We all skated well and many times we were in the middle of the packs and made some good passes to get up front.”

Competition ends Sunday.