Canadian Short Track 500m Titles Go to Marianne St-Gelais & Guillaume Blais-Dufour

Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) and Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Québec, QC) took the Canadian crowns in the 500m today at the Canadian Open Championships taking place at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal.

St-Gelais, 2010 Olympic silver medalist in the 500m, dominated the field in her top distance today, leading all her races from start to finish. In the final, she was battling it out with Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC), Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) and Caroline Truchon (Chicoutimi, QC).

St-Gelais started in front, closely followed by Drolet and Gregg. They had a very small gap on Truchon. Leading a fast paced race, St-Gelais ensured none of her opponents were able to pass her, and she took the title by crossing the line in 43.334. Drolet took the silver medal with a time of 43.441, while Gregg gets bronze (43.692) and Truchon continued her successful weekend with the fourth position (44.190).

In the overall ranking after two distance, Drolet and St-Gelais are tied for first place with one victory and one second place each, while Caroline Truchon is third, thanks to a 4th place in both distances. Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) is fourth (bronze in the 1500m, 6th place today in the 500m), Gregg is fifth and Ann-Véronique Michaud (Amqui, QC) is sixth.

The men’s final was once again featuring the Hamelin brothers, Charles and François, as well as Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB), Blais-Dufour and Pier-Olivier Gagnon (Québec, QC). Charles Hamelin took off first, closely followed by François Hamelin and Blais-Dufour. After one lap, Charles’ blade slipped slightly, allowing Blais-Dufour and François to pass. From then on, Blais-Dufour cruised to the finish line, winning his first ever Canadian title in a time of 41.640. François Hamelin won the silver medal in 41.761, and his brother gets the bronze (41.857). Pier-Olivier Gagnon, who will represent Canada at the World Junior Championships next month, finished fourth in 41.991 and Liam McFarlane was fifth (42.154).

Overall, the Hamelin brothers are leading the board after two distances, Charles in first and François right behind in second. Blais-Dufour is in third place, while Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) is fourth, Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) fifth and Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) sixth.

The Canadian Open Championships will come to an end on Sunday at the Maurice-Richard Arena, as athletes will compete for the 1000m and 3000m Canadian titles, and will take part in a relay race, starting at 1pm. Admission is free for the public, and it’s also possible to watch the races live on line at www.jestertv.net.