Four more Canadian medals at Nagano Short Track World Cup

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) ended the last stop of the Fall World Cup Circuit in fashion, today, when they took the silver and bronze medals of the 1500m race. They then paired up with team-mates to take the gold in the relay, a first on this season’s World Cup Circuit. The women’s relay team added a bronze to the tally.

Hamelin has been dominant on the circuit this year, reaching the podium seven times individually in four World Cups so far. He has medals in every distance, in fact, he only missed the podium once. Jean took two World Cups to warm up, after missing all of last season because of an injury, but he is back, and now in better shape than ever, with three individual medals in the two Asia World Cups.

In today’s 1500m, the two Canadians finished just behind Korean Lee Ho-Suk in an 8-men final. They were the only skaters from Canada in the distance, as Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) is not skating this weekend due to back pain.

It was a close one in the 500m, Canada’s favorite. No Canadian skater was able to make it through the semi-final, however. François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC), a specialist in the distance, and rookie Richard Shoebridge (Cambridge, ON) were relegated to the B Final when they finished 3 and 4 of their semi-final heat. François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) was disqualified in his semi-final, for a contact with American Anthony Lobello. Tremblay finished ahead of Shoebridge in their two-men B final, for 6th and 7th place respectively, and Hamelin is 8th as he could not skate the finals.

On the women side, Canadians achieved three top-ten performances today. The first was that of sprinter Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), who took 5th place in the 500m, her specialty, by winning the B final. Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) was also in that final, and she wound up 7th. The other Canadian in the distance, Anne Maltais (Québec, QC), was disqualified in the repechage semi-final earlier in the day, and settled for 23rd.

The last distance of the day was the women’s 1500m, and Annik Plamondon (Longueuil, QC) was the top skater for Canada, with a 10th place. Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) was stopped in semi-final, for 13th place, and Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) was disqualified in that same round, for 17th position.

Canada’s men relay team built on the strong performances they achieved all weekend, and took the gold medal for the first time this season, leaving behind the powerful Koreans and Chinese, who had to settle for silver and bronze. The women also added a medal to Canada’s tally, when they finished third behind China and Korea.

Today’s four medals make it six for Canada in Nagano, twelve in total during this trip to Asia. This is an excellent performance for the team, who often encounters sickness when traveling to that part of the world. This time, the support team was ready and took all means necessary to ensure everyone stayed healthy, which was the case.

This puts an end to the Fall World Cup competitions for the short track skaters. They head home to Montreal and Calgary tomorrow, for a bit of well deserved rest. They will jump back on the ice soon, however, in preparation for the Canadian Open Championships to be held in Montreal on January 16-18. The competition will serve as team selection for the last two stops of the World Cup Circuit, and most importantly for the World Championships.