Edmonton’s Jessica Gregg wins bronze medal at world junior short track speed skating championships

Jessica Gregg of Edmonton won the bronze medal in the women’s 500-metre on Saturday for the second straight year at the world junior short track speed skating championships.

Eun-Ju Jung of South Korea won the gold medal clocking 45.559 with Arianna Fontana of Italy second in 45.597. Gregg withstood a couple of bumps from her opponents to place third in 45.881.

With her performance Gregg, also third in the 500 at last year’s world juniors, moved up to fourth in the overall standings after two of four races.

‘’I was happy with my final,’’ said Gregg, 17, whose father is former NHLer Randy Gregg and her mother is former national long track team member Kathy Vogt. Randy Gregg is the Canadian team doctor.

‘’I knew it was going to be tough. I got off the line first and with a couple of laps to go I was bumped by the Korean and Italian skaters which slowed me down. My strategy was to get in front of the Italian girl early because she has great starts. I focused on keeping ahead of her.’’

Valerie Maltais of La Baie, Que., was eliminated in the quarterfinals for ninth overall and Andrea Do-Duc of Montreal was ousted in the second round.

In the men’s 500, Robert Seifert of Germany took the gold in 43.539, Dariusz Kulesza of Poland was second in 43.655 and John Celski of the U.S., third in 50.260.

Joël Mineau of Longueuil, Que., and Nicholas Bean of Ottawa were eliminated in the semifinals for seventh and eighth respectively and François Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., was ousted in the quarterfinals for 11th spot.

Mineau crossed the finish line first in his semifinal heat but was disqualified after he was blamed for a Chinese skater’s fall. Replays showed that Mineau didn’t cause any interference.

‘’Our guys had great races but we needed to be faster off the start,’’ said Canadian national team coach Yves Hamelin of Montreal. ''It’s unfortunate Joel was disqualified because he was probably the strongest guy out there today.’’

Canada also advanced to the finals in both the men’s and women’s 2,000-metre relays. The Canadian men with Mineau, Bean and Hamelin won their semifinal heat while the women were second in their semi with Gregg, Maltais and Do-Duc.

Competition ends Sunday.