Hamelin & Roberge first victors at Canadian Open in short track speed skating

Olympic medallists Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., won the men’s and women’s 1,500-metre races respectively on Thursday to open the Canadian Open short track speed skating championships.

The competition is also the second and last selection trial to determine the Canadian team for the final two World Cup events next month in Europe and the world championships in March.

In the men’s 1,500, Hamelin clocked two minutes and 16.898 seconds with Mathieu Giroux of Montreal second in 2:17.455 and Remi Beaulieu of Montreal third in 2:17.571. Jean-Francois Monette of Pointe-aux Trembles, Que., was fourth, Francois Hamelin of Ste-Julie fifth, Nicolas Bean of Ottawa sixth and Michael Gilday of Yellowknife seventh.

“I’m extremely happy with my day, my races went as I planned,” said Hamelin, with four individual World Cup medals so far this season. “We hadn’t raced in a few weeks and I was anxious to get going again. My main focus this week is to finish in the top–two overall so I can be guaranteed to race all the individual events at the worlds.

“In that situation I look at my strengths and weakness and try to make sure I’m in a position that I’ll be as strong possible in the races.”

In the women’s 1,500, Roberge won gold in 2:32.345. The battle for second place was fierce with Annik Plamondon of Longueuil, Que., second in 2:33.618, Anne Maltais of Quebec City third in 2:33.709 and Marianne St-Gelais of St-Felicien, Que., fourth in 2:33.958. Melanie Gagnon of Montreal was fifth and Ivanie Blondin of Ottawa was disqualified.

Competition continues through to Saturday.