Guilmette top Canadian at short track speed skating World Cup opener

South Korea swept the gold medals in the 1,500-metre races Friday while double Olympic medallist Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal was the top Canadian at the season opening World Cup event in short track speed skating.

In the men’s 1,500, Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea took the gold in 2:27.036 with Fabio Carta of Italy second in 2:27.451 and Se-Jong Oh of South Korea third in 2:27.476.

Guilmette, second in the event at the world championships last season, skated well in the heat and semifinals but lost some power in the final and finished fifth in 2:28.300.

"Jonathan tried to conserve energy in the final as best he could but he still tired out," said Canadian national team coach Guy Thibault of Montreal.

Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., a double medallist at the Salt Lake City Olympics, had skate problems in the final and finished seventh. Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., was eliminated in the opening heat and finished 12th overall.

"At the start of the season, a lot of skaters fiddle with their skates," said Thibault. "Sometimes they accidentally loosen screws on the blade and that’s what happened to Mathieu. It’s too bad. He was eager to really test himself in the final."

In the women’s 1,500 final, Eun-Kyung Choi of South Korea was the winner in 2:24.243, Xiaoying Lili of China second in 2:25.539 and Evgenia Radanova of Bulgaria third in 2:25.627.

Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., were eliminated in the semifinals and were ranked seventh and 11th respectively. Tania Vicent of Montreal didn’t get by the first heat and placed 16th.

In the women’s 3,000-metre relay semifinal, Canada qualified for the final placing second in its heat. Skating for Canada were Vicent, Kraus, Goulet-Nadon and Chantale Sévigny of Sherbrooke.

The Canadians start the post-Olympic season without two of its biggest stars. Five-time Olympic medallist Marc Gagnon of Montreal and three time Games medallist Isabelle Charest of Montreal both retired this summer.

"We’re really trying to iron things out at this meet," said Thibault. "We’re dealing with the time change, equipment problems. I wasn’t sure what to expect here. But I think we’ll just get better and better as the season continues."

Competition continues Saturday with the men’s and women’s 500-metres and men’s relay semifinal.

Friday’s results at a World Cup short track speed skating competition in Chuncheon, South Korea:

MEN

1,500: 1. Hyun-Soo Ahn, South Korea, 2:27.038; 2. Fabio Carta, Italy, 2:27.451; 3. Se-Jong Oh, South Korea, 2:27.476; 4. Ye Li, China, 2:28.006; 5. Jonathan Guilmette, Montreal, 2:228.330; 6. Seung-Jae Lee, South Korea, 2:28.469; 7. Mathieu Turcotte, Sherbrooke, Que., 3:06.046.

Also: 12. Francois-Louis Tremblay, Boucherville, Que.

WOMEN

1,500: 1. Eun-Kyung Choi, South Korea, 2:24.243; 2. Xiaoying Lili, China, 2:25.539; 3. Evgenia Radanova, Bulgaria, 2:25.627; 4. Tianyu Fu, China, 2:25.803; 5. Ha-Ri Cho, South Korea, 2:29.683; 6. Min-Jin Joo, South Korea, 2:30.172.

Canadians: 7. Amélie Goulet-Nadon, Laval, Que.; 11. Alanna Kraus, Abbotsford, B.C. 16. Tania Vicent, Montreal.