Five more Olympic berths in short track speed skating for Canada

Canada secured a total of five berths in the men’s and women’s 500-metres for this February’s Olympics on Saturday at the World Cup final in short track speed skating.

The Canadian women gained the maximum three Olympic spots at the distance with Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., earning the right to race the event at the Games this February. Two spots were earned for the men by Éric Bédard of Ste-Thecle, Que., and François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal.

In Saturday’s women’s 500 final, Meng Wang of China took the gold in 44.772 seconds with Evegenia Radanova of Bulgaria second in 44.898 while Roberge earned the bronze in 44.973 and Leblanc-Boucher was fourth in 45.072.

Roberge, 19, is enjoying a standout rookie season on the national team. She suffered a leg injury at the Olympic team trials in September but hung on to make the Olympic team. This season on the World Cup she won three bronze medals in the 500 and finishes fourth overall in the 500 standings.

‘’I’ve reached all my goals so far,’’ said Roberge. ‘’I’m still not fully recovered from my injury so I’ve had to be cautious in my racing. In today’s race I was up against some very experienced competitors but they’ve seen me enough in the final now to know I can be threat in this event.’’

Kraus was eliminated in the semifinal for ninth overall.

The men’s 500 final was won by South Korean Hyun-Soo Ahn. Tremblay and Bedard were eliminated in the semifinals for eighth and ninth respectively while Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., was ousted in the third round.

‘’Personally I’m pleased to get the spot but I think the guys we’re hoping to get three positions for the Olympics in this event,’’ said Tremblay. ‘’There was some positive aspects in my racing today and I know I can be at the top of my game at the Olympics.’’

Bedard and Turcotte finish third and fourth overall in the 500 World Cup standings.

Canada advanced to both relay finals. In the women’s 3,000, the Canadians won their semifinal heat with Leblanc-Boucher, Roberge, Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que., and Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont. In the men’s 5000 relay, Canada was second in its heat with Tremblay, Turcotte, Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que.