Canadian Short Track Skaters Making Progress at Moscow World Cup

Canadian short track speed skaters are back in action on the international stage as they take part in World Cup #5 this weekend in Moscow, Russia. Day one can be considered a success for the Canadian team, made up of a good mix of veterans and younger athletes.

On the women side, athletes flew through the qualification rounds of the first three events. Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC) dominated her 1500m heat, while Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) and Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) took second place of their respective race, ensuring all three skaters would be in the quarter final round tomorrow.

Double Olympic silver medalist Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) once again showed some great racing, achieving the fastest time of both the 500m and 1000m distances, winning all four races she took part in. Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) also finished first of both her 500m races, won her first 1000m heat and finished second of the other, ensuring she would be in the quarter finals coming up this weekend. Meanwhile, rookie Caroline Truchon (Chicoutimi, QC) showed she was most deserving to take part in her first career World Cup when she opened up her weekend of racing with two first place finishes in the 1000m, ensuring she would join St-Gelais and Gregg in tomorrow’s quarter final. Truchon went on to finish second of both her 500m heats, and she will not need to go through the repechage at all this weekend.

It was a different story in the second 1000m event where Drolet, Mendes-Campeau and Hewitt will all have to get up Sunday morning in order to try and secure their spots in the quarter final rounds. Only two athletes can qualify from the repechage on to the quarter finals, so they will all battle for those coveted spots.

“Overall, we’re really happy with the women’s showing today,” explained Team Leader Yves Hamelin. “It was a long day but it started out really well, with all girls having strong showings in the first three distances. We were particularly happy with the way Caroline [Truchon] raced. She was nervous in the 1000m, but gained confidence as the day progressed, and her 500m races were outstanding, with fast starts and great speed throughout the races.”

On the men side, the day started out well with Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) and Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) qualifying for the 1500m semi-finals. They will be the only two Canadian representatives there however, as Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) received a penalty for impeding when he attempted to go from fourth to first with an inside pass.

Jean will have to turn his focus to the 500m. It was business as usual for the Canadian men in that distance, with Jean, Charles and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) winning each of their race. The Hamelin brothers also posted the two fastest times in the distance.

In 1000m action, Charles and François Hamelin once again posted strong results and ensured their spot for tomorrow’s quarter final round. Rookie Guillaume Blais-Dufour (Québec, QC), taking part in his first career World Cup, started out in fourth place and was not able to move up, and he will need to go through the repechage.

For the second 1000m event of the weekend, Gilday and Beaulieu were dominant in their heats today and they will get to race in Sunday’s quarter finals, while Blais-Dufour will once again have to get up for the repechage.

“We saw our men in good control through their races today,” continued Yves Hamelin. “Our veterans were very solid in their races, posting fast times and making their moves at the right time. Guillaume learnt through the day, his racing in the second 1000m event was stronger, he was showing good progress.”

In relay action, both of Canada’s team led their races from start to finish, ensuring their place in tomorrow’s semi-finals. St-Gelais, Hewitt, Gregg and Truchon teamed up for the women, while the Hamelin brothers, Blais-Dufour and Beaulieu raced for the men.

Action resumes tomorrow in Moscow. Blais-Dufour will be the first to take to the ice in the 1000m repechage, while the rest of Team Canada will be in action in the afternoon for quarter, semi and final rounds in the 1500m and 1000m as well as the relay semi-finals.