Canadian men dominate opening day at world short track speed skating team championships

Canada won eighth of its 10 heats in men’s competition Saturday to qualify directly for the final while at the short track speed skating world team championships.

The Canadian men compiled 54 points to win their bracket while Italy was a distant second at 30 and Russia and Britain tied at third at 18. In the other bracket, South Korea finished first at 50 points with China second at 33, Japan third at 23 and France fourth at 13.

Canada and South Korea gained direct berths to Sunday’s final. Second and third in each of the two brackets competed later Saturday in a repechage to determine the last two spots for the final which were earned by China and Italy.

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.

National team rookie Steve Robillard of Montreal was the big point getter for Canada with victories in his 500-metre and 1,000-metre heats and second place in the 3,000.

Jean-François Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., earned wins in his 500 and 1,000 heats and Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal won his 1,000 and the 3,000. Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., won his 1,000 heat.

Canada with Guilmette, Monette, Turcotte and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., earned more points with a victory in the 5,000-metre relay in 7:02.656 more than six seconds ahead of second place Italy.

In women’s competition, China and Korea gained direct berths to the final in the preliminaries while Canada was third in its bracket and fifth overall and must go through a repechage to make the final.

Alana Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., won her 500 heat in the prelims while Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., posted second place finishes in her 500 and 1,000 races. Also finishing second in their heats were Tania Vicent of Montreal and Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., in the 1,000 and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal in the 500.

Competition ends Sunday.