Canadians in medal contention after first day at short track speed skating World Cup

All of the Canadian entries remained in medal contention on Friday as the short track speed skating World Cup season got underway under a new competitive format.

This season, preliminaries and heats in all distances are held on the first day of a World Cup event with repechages, quarterfinals, semifinals and two individual finals on the second and third days. In past years each individual distance was contested in its entirety in one day.

Here is how Canadians fared by distance on Friday:

In the 500, François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal, Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., all advanced to the quarterfinals in men’s competition; for the women, Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., and Anne Maltais of Quebec City advanced to the quarters while Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal is headed to the repechage.

In the 1,000, Tremblay, Steve Robillard of Montreal and Mathieu Giroux of Montreal all advanced to the quarters for the men while for the women Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., and Raphaele Lemieux of Riviere-du-Loup, Que., advanced to the quarters while Roberge is headed to the repechage.

In the 1,500, all the Canadians advanced to the quarterfinals: Jean, Robillard, Hamelin and Marc-André Monette of Pointe-aux Trembles, Que., for the men and Leblanc-Boucher, Maltais, Lemieux and Nita Avrith of Montreal for the women.

In the men’s relay, the Canadian men advanced to the semifinals with Hamelin, Tremblay, Monette and Giroux. The women’s relay starts Saturday.

"It’s very different to compete under this format," said Canadian national team coach Martin Gagné of Montreal. "It’s a long process. It requires a lot of focus for the skaters. I like the addition of the repechage, because sometimes you get knocked out of race due to some bad luck. But tomorrow (Saturday) Anouk could potentially race six times in one day."

Friday’s races started at 9:30 a.m., and the scheduled wasn’t completed until nearly 6 p.m.

"It was a bit strange to race this kind of schedule," said Roberge. "I’m not sure about it yet. Today my races were close together so it wasn’t so long for me. But I’m looking at a very heavy schedule on Sunday."

Saturday’s competition features the 500 and 1,500 metre finals.

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