Charles Hamelin breaks Canadian record in 500 at short track speed skating trials

Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., broke the Canadian record Saturday en route to the gold medal in the men’s 500-metres at the national team trials in short track speed skating.

Hamelin won the final in 41.434 after lowering the Canadian mark in the semifinals with a 41.035. That eclipsed the previous national record of 41.184 set by Jean-Francois Monette of Pointes-aux-Trembles, Que., in Calgary in 2003.

"I wasn’t aiming for the record," said Hamelin, 20, a World Cup bronze medallist last season. "I got off the start first and I just did my usual race and it went extremely well. I knew I was feeling strong but I was surprised after the race when they told me it was a Canadian record. In training this week I often posted the fastest lap times, so I knew my speed was good."

Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., was second in the 500 final in 41.572, Cory Rasmussen of Prince George, B.C., was third in 41.895 and Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., fourth.

In the overall standings after two of four distances, Hamelin leads at 1,686 points, Turcotte is second at 1,359, Tremblay third at 1,259 , Steve Robillard of Montreal fourth at 1,106, Monette fifth at 738 and Rasmussen sixth at 723.

In the women’s 500, Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., moved into the overall lead with a victory in 45.126. Mélanie Gagnon of Montreal was second in 45.242, Kalyne Roberge of Montreal third in 45.292 and Chantale Sévigny of Sherbrooke fourth.

"I tried to be aggressive and I made a couple of good passes," said Kraus, 27, a world championship bronze medallist last year. "I’ve had a bit of a slow start this year but I feel my skating is coming around. This was definitely my best showing so far. We had a really good building block after the World Cups in China (in October)."

After two of four distances, Kraus leads the overall standings with 1,543 points with Sévigny second at 1,209, Amanda Overland of Cambridge, Ont., third at 1,111, Roberge fourth at 1,028, Gagnon fifth at 1,012 and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal sixth at 886.

Tania Vicent of Montreal, the 1,500 winner on Friday, pulled a leg muscle in warm-up and is out of the competition. Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., a triple World Cup champion two seasons ago, is also out with an injury.

The top-five overall in both men’s and women’s competition will be selected to Canada’s team for the World Cups next weekend in Madison, Wisconsin and the following weekend at Saguenay, Que.

Competition ends Sunday.