Canadians advance in men’s & women’s competition at short track team worlds

Canada’s Olympic short track speed skating team qualified directly for the final in both men’s and women’s competition Saturday at the world team championships in short tracks speed skating being held this weekend at the Maurice-Richard Arena.

In the team event, there are heats in the 500, and 1,000, with one entry per country, one 3,000 metre with two entries per country and a relay. The winner in each heat earns five points for his or her country, second place three points and third place one. Relay points are doubled.

In women’s competition, Canada won its bracket with 56 out of a possible 58 points winning nine of its 10 races. The U.S., was second at 30 and Japan third at 25. In the other bracket defending champion South Korea placed first to a gain a direct berth to Sunday’s final with 41 points ahead of China at 35 and Italy in third at 26.

The U.S., Japan, China and Italy raced again Saturday evening in a repechage with the top two joining Canada and South Korea in the final. The Canadian women were third last year.

Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., posted wins in her 500 and 1,000 heats and the 3,000 while Tania Vicent of Verchères, Que., took the other 500 and 1,000 heats and double Olympic medallist Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal her 500 heat. Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford won her 500 and was second in her 1,000. Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., won her 1,000, was second in the 3,000 and joined Vicent, Leblanc-Boucher and Kraus for the relay win.

‘’We definitely did not want to race in the repèchage tonight,’’ said Leblanc-Boucher. ‘’Everyone skated great. It’s a great way to start and we’ll have more energy for the final.’’

In men’s competition, Canada, the defending champions, won its bracket with 51 points while the U.S., and Japan tied for second at 30. South Korea won the other bracket at 52 points with China at 31, Italy at 21 and the Netherlands third at 16. The U.S., Japan, China and Italy competed in Saturday night’s repechage.

The Canadian men swept the 1,000 metre races with Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., Eric Bédard of Ste-Thècle, Que., and double Olympic medallist François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal. Hamelin, Tremblay and Bédard also won their 500 heats and Turcotte was third. Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal and Turcotte were second and third in the 3,000 and Canada won its relay with Bédard, Hamelin, Guilmette and Tremblay.

‘’We expected to dominate our bracket and we’re confident for the final,’’ said Tremblay. ‘’ We’re really motivated for this competition and we expect a battle for the gold against the Koreans. They did better than us at the Olympics so this spices up the event. We feel we have an advantage being on familiar ice and with the crowd support.’’

Competition ends Sunday.