Fast times for short track speed skaters at nationals

Olympic medallists Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., posted world’s best times Thursday in their respective pursuit races at the Canadian Open short track speed skating championships.

In the men’s 777-metre pursuit, Guilmette, who two gold medals at the World Cup final last month, clocked first in 1:04.772. Jeff Scholten of Fredericton was second in 1:04.872 and Jean-François Monette of Pointe-aux Trembles, Que., the World Cup 500 champion, third in 1:05.890.

‘’The ice here is the best in the world,’’ said Guilmette, who earned gold in the relay and silver in the 500 at the 2002 Winter Olympics. ‘’It’s super fast. It’s smooth, you can turn well, the ice doesn’t brittle, it’s really perfect. So it’s great for my confidence to get off to such a good start.’’

In the women’s pursuit, Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., a member of the Olympic bronze medal winning relay, took the gold in 1:10.226. Triple World Cup champion Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., was second at 1:11.295 and Annie Perreault of Rock Forest, Que., third in 1:11.965.

‘’The pursuit isn’t really that important in the big picture but it’s nice to get a good start,’’ said Kraus, with two medals and two top-three finishes in World Cup standings this season. ‘’I was really surprised by the time. I never thought I was going that fast.’’

This weekend is also the second half of the team trials for the world championships later this month. The first trials held in Montreal in December counted for 30% of the total and this weekend’s for 70%. Goulet-Nadon and Scholten were the leaders after the first trials.

The top five overall qualify for the world team with the top three earning the right to race the individual distances at worlds. The official world team will be announced Monday by Speed Skating Canada.

The top-32 in the pursuits Thursday qualify for the main draw of the competition.

Competition continues Friday with the 1,500 metres starting at 1 p.m. local time.


Thursday’s results at the Canadian Open short track speed skating championships in Calgary:

MEN

777-metre pursuit:

1. Jonathan Guilmette, Montreal, 1:04.772; 2. Jeff Scholten, Fredericton, 1:04.872; 3. Jean-François Monette, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., 1 :05.890; 4. François-Louis Tremblay, Boucherville, Que., 1 :06.042; 5. Charles Hamelin, Se-Julie, Que., 1 :06.199; 6. Steve Robillard, Montreal, 1 :06.224; 7. Mathieu Turcotte, Shebrooke, Que., 1 :06.295; 8. Daryl Rasmussen, Prince George, B.C., 1 :06.327; 9. Tony Smith, Calgary, 1 :06.342; 10. Mathieu Giroux, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., 1 :06.457.

WOMEN

777-metre pursuit:

1. Alanna Kraus, Abbotsford, B.C., 1:10.226; 2. Amélie Goulet-Nadon, Laval, Que., 1:11.295; 3. Annie Perreault, Rock Forest, Que., 1 :11.965; 4. Tania Vicent, Montreal, 1 :12.265; 5. Anne Maltais, Quebec City, 1 :12.273; 6. Amanda Overland, Cambridge, Ont., 1 :12.695; 7. Jasmine Reeves, Prince George, B.C., 1 :13.235; 8. Chantale Sévigny, Sherbrooke, Que., 1:13.244; 9. Annik Plamondon, Longueuil, Que., 1:13.537; 10. Mélanie Gagnon, Montreal, 1 :14.028.