Great Canadian Medal Harvest at Montreal Short Track World Cup

The Canadian Team took full advantage of their home ice today, as they captured seven more medals – including four gold – at the Korean Air ISU World Cup Short Track Montreal 2010. Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC), Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) and Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) took gold medals in the men’s 1500m and both 500m. Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC) added silver in the 1500m, and Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) bronze in the 500m. The day ended with a gold medal from the men’s relay team and a bronze from the women.

This means another $7,000 will go to Canadian speed skating clubs, thanks to Intact Insurance who committed to giving $1,000 to a club each time a Canadian steps on the podium this season in a World Cup. With yesterday’s 4 medals, this means a total of $11,000 for Canadian clubs this weekend.

Marie-Ève Drolet in the 1500m, Photo: Simon Pichette
Team Canada started out strong, with two skaters in the women’s 1500m final, Drolet and Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC). Drolet was fighting for the lead the whole time, along with Chinese Olympic Champion in the distance Zhou Yang, two Deutch skaters and American Katherine Reutter, who went to the front half way through the race. Hewitt tried to pass outside with five laps to go, but wasn’t able to make it. Reutter managed to grab the gold medal in a time of 2:24.540, Drolet took silver in 2:24.726, thanks to a perfectly well executed pass on Zhou (bronze, 2:24.937) with three and a half laps left in the race.

“I really wanted to make the final,” smiled Drolet moments after the race. “Once there, you never know what can happen. I’m really happy, I felt great, had good legs and I knew I could do it. In the race, I knew I was in a good position for a medal and I didn’t find it too hard, so it was amazing for me!”. This is the first international medal for Drolet since she retired from short track in 2002. Hewitt finished 5th in the final, with a time of 2:25.290, and Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) was eliminated in semi-final for 14th place overall.

Guillaume Bastille was the lone Canadian representative on the men side, after

Guillaume Bastille trying to get in front in the 1500m, Photo: Simon Pichette
François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) was eliminated in semi-final (he finished 16th overall) and Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) took fifth place in the B final (11th overall). Bastille honoured his country with a great race despite tough ice conditions. The athletes were fighting for top positions through the race, Bastille found himself last with four laps to go. He made his way to fourth place, then second just behind American Travis Jayner, before beating him in the last lap and crossing the finish first in 2:23.374 for his first career World Cup gold medal. Jayner took the silver medal in 2:23.496 and French skater Maxime Châtaignier was third (2:23.501).

“I wasn’t expecting this the way my weekend started, having to go through the repechage yesterday,” said Bastille. “It was a strange race with very soft ice. This is my first World Cup Gold medal and to me, it’s the confirmation that everything I’ve done in training over the years is working great!”

In the women’s 500m final, St-Gelais took off first as usual. Chinese Liu Qiuhong fell in the first corner, which allowed Italian Arianna Fontana and Lambert to take second and third place respectively. Positions didn’t change through the race, and St-Gelais also won her first career World Cup gold in a time of 44:002. Fontana followed in 44:462 and Lambert wins her first ever individual World Cup medal, a bronze (46:020).

“I had the race I wanted,” explained St-Gelais. “My objective was to have a fast first lap and be in the lead, which is exactly what I did.” Valérie Maltais also raced the 500m, but she was eliminated in her quarter final and she finishes 16th overall.

The men gave a great show in their 500m final. Canadian skater François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC) started first. Hamelin was right behind, and he took the lead with an inside pass with 2 ½ laps to go. American Simon Cho and Chinese Liang Wenhao followed, however, and Tremblay found himself in the back. He kept trying to pass all the way to the finish line, but came out a little short. Hamelin took the gold medal in 41.839, Cho finished second (42.143) and Liang third (42.295), while Tremblay was fourth (42.533).

“This makes up for yesterday,” said a smiling Hamelin. “I knew what to do and I did it. It’s great to be back on the podium, especially in the 500m, after all, I have a title to defend since the Olympics.” Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NWT) received a penalty for impeding in semi-final and finishes 8th overall.

The women’s relay team had a shot at gold as Valérie Lambert was first with three laps to go, but an American skater touched her while attempting an inside pass, which allowed both the US and China to pass. St-Gelais, skating last for Canada, tried to pass back at the finish, but she was a little short and crossed the line in 4:17.562, just behind the Americans (4:17.550) and the Chinese took the gold in 4:16.924.

In the absence of the Koreans, the gold was definitely the objective of Team Canada on the men side. They skated a very relaxed race, letting the Americans and French teams lead part of the race, but taking the lead halfway through and never looking back. The Canadians finished in 7:05.828, well ahead of the French (7:07.235) and Americans (7:07.511) who took silver and bronze respectively.

Athletes from all countries will head to Québec City by bus tomorrow, where they will train all week in order to compete in the second stop of the World Cup circuit next week at the Pavillon de la jeunesse.