First stage of Olympic qualifying by country Two Canadians on the podium in the 500m: Charles Hamelin wins gold & Olivier Jean takes bronze

First stage of Olympic qualifying by country Two Canadians on the podium in the 500m: Charles Hamelin wins gold and Olivier Jean takes bronze

Montréal, November 9, 2013 –The stakes are high for this Samsung Short Track Speed Skating World Cup since these results, combined with next week’s World Cup in Kolomna, Russia, are set to determine which countries earn spots for the Sochi Olympic Games.

On the women’s side, the Canadians played it safe. In the 1500m, Jessica Hewitt of Kamloops, B.C., had the best result, with an 8th place finish. Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Que., followed in 9th. Marianne St-Gelais of St-Félicien, Que, took the 36th spot after a fall in her race.

“It’s a bittersweet race. I am happy that I skated with confidence, but I made a mistake in the last lap. If I hadn’t made that mistake, I would have been in the final”, explained Jessica Hewitt.

“I’m happy with the day although not entirely satisfied. My result in the 500m put me in a better mood after the 1500m B final where I came out too early and too fast. It was a tactical mistake that I need to improve on. Despite this disappointment, our first goal was to earn our spots, which we’ve achieved”, said Valérie Maltais, who will take the start line tomorrow in the 1000m and the relay.

In the sprint event, Marianne St-Gelais took 6th. Her teammate Valérie Maltais took 7th. Edmonton’s Jessica Gregg, the other 500m specialist, was penalized for impeding the eventual winner of the event, Meng Wang, and finished 16th.

Two medals for the men
The 500m final featured Olivier Jean, Charles Hamelin and two Russian skaters. The “Sainte-Julie Locomotive”, as Hamelin is sometimes called, spared no effort to clinch 1st place, and finished ahead by merely one blade! Olivier Jean was not far behind and was awarded the bronze medal for his efforts. Rookie Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que, had a great race in the B Final to claim 7th spot.

“It’s a nice win. It was an exciting and fun race to skate. In the final, I played it conservatively; I wanted to maintain some energy to attack in case I was passed by the Russians or Olivier. Victor An passed me in the last laps but I was able to come back and take the win”, explained Charles Hamelin, after the day’s races.

“This was a nice podium. It was a solid day for me, both in my result and the way I skated, despite not having the easiest race conditions. It’s never easy to start 5th on the line in the 500m, but I was able to make the best of it”, declared Jean.

In the 1500m, the Hamelin brothers took the line for the big final. François fought hard and took 4th place, his best career result. Charles’ progression was blocked by Korean Jinkyu Noh, who was penalized for their resulting fall. Despite the fall, Charles Hamelin still finished 5th. In the B Final, Yellowknife’s Michael Gilday was penalized and finished in 12th spot.

In order to earn an Olympic berth for their country, athletes must finish among the top 32 skaters in the 500m and 1000m and among the top 36 in the 1500m. The top eight teams in the relay earn their tickets to Sochi.

Audio Clips

Jessica Hewitt

Schedule for Sunday, November 10th
Tomorrow’s program will feature the 1000m and the relays. The finals of the individual event will take place at 3:15 p.m. local time (Torino), 9:15 a.m. EST. The relay finals will start at 4:45 pm local time (Torino), 10:45 a.m. EST.

Final, Men’s 500m
1. Charles Hamelin, Ste-Julie (Qc), 40.910
2. Victor An, Russia, 40.935
3. Olivier Jean, Lachenaie (Qc), 41.109
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7. Charle Cournoyer, Boucherville (Qc), 42.025

Final, Women’s 500m
1. Meng Wang, China, 43.308
2. Arianna Fontana, Italy 43.398
3. Kexin Fan, China, 44.070
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6. Marianne St-Gelais, St-Félicien (QC), 44.321
7. Valérie Maltais, La Baie (QC), 44.405
16. Jessica Gregg, Edmonton (AB), pénalité

Final, Men’s 1500m
1. Han-Bin Lee, Korea, 2:24.363
2. John-Henry Krueger, USA, 2:24.421
3. Sjinkie Knegt, Netherlands, 2:24.521
4. François Hamelin, Ste-Julie (Qc), 2:24.538
5. Charles Hamelin, Ste-Julie (Qc), 3:19.903
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12. Michael Gilday, Yellowknife (TNO), penalized

Final, Women’s 1500m
1. Suk Hee Shim, Korea, 2:20.031
2. Seung-Hi Park, Korea, 2:20.511
3. Yang Zhou, China, 2:20.529
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8. Jessica Hewitt, Kamloops (BC), 2:55.536
9. Valérie Maltais, La Baie (QC), 2:55.643
36. Marianne St-Gelais, St-Félicien (QC), fall