Hamelin Brothers Take Over Podium at Vancouver Short Track World Cup

Brothers Charles and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) pleased the crowd at the Pacific Coliseum, today, when they took the gold and bronze medal respectively in the 1000m final. It was the first time the Canadian brothers were stepping on the podium together for an international competition.

Hamelin brothers on the podium; Photo: Jeff Bough

“It’s amazing”, said François afterwards. “Once I heard I was going to be on the podium with my brother, I was really excited! It’s even more amazing that it’s happening here, in Vancouver, in the event that’s the official preparation for the Olympic Games…”

The fans were cheering loud during the men’s 1000m final, and they certainly had good reasons to do so, with not only home favourites Hamelin, but also American Apolo Anton Ohno and Korean Kwak Yoon-Gy, two of the fastest skaters in the world. There was a fifth skater in the race, American Anthony Lobello, who took silver.

“It was the perfect example of a short track race,” said Charles Hamelin. “There was a lot of action, strategy, and a great finish!” And he was right, he who started out first, but saw his brother take the lead very quickly. Ohno then passed and came in contact with him, causing a slight slip. There were numerous changes of position and a race for the finish, with Hamelin, Ohno, Lobello and younger Hamelin crossing the line in that order, but

Charles Hamelin celebrating his victory; Photo: Jeff Bough
Ohno was disqualified for impeding, which gave 1-3 to the Hamelin. The other Canadian skater in the distance, François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC) won the B final, for 6th place overall.

“It’s great to get my first gold medal of the season. There are now 15 months to the Olympics here in Vancouver, and having two Canadians on the podium in a distance shows that we’re on the right path leading us there”, finished Charles Hamelin.

Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) was the lone Canadian on the women side, as her two team-mates, Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) didn’t make it through the repechage round in the morning. The young skater had a tough heat with Chinese Wang Meng, World Record holder in the distance. St-Gelais gave everything she had, but came just short of a spot in the semi-finals, crossing the finish line in 3rd position for 11th place overall.

In the 1500m, both Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) and Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) were able to qualify for the semi-finals through the morning repechage rounds. Mendes-Campeau even made it to the B final, for a 15th place

Mendes-Campeau in the B Final of the 1500m; Photo: Jeff Bough

overall. Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) was also in that B final, and she finished 10th.

This is a great showing for the two junior-aged athletes who are skating in their second career World Cup this weekend. There were 9 skaters in the B final, a very unique situation but great experience for these young skaters. Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) was the other Canadian woman in the distance, and she was disqualified for cross-tracking in her semi-final race, for 18th place overall.

On the men side, Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) had another strong day, taking once again the honours of the B final, for 9th place overall. Beaulieu came very close to making the A final for the first time of his career, but finished 3rd of his semi-final. Both other skaters from Team Canada, Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Michael Gilday, were disqualified in semi-final for 20th and 21st positions.

The women’s relay was another extremely exciting race for the crowd. Five teams were in the second race, including home favourite Canadians (Gregg, Hewitt, St-Gelais and Maltais), and it was close for second place. Kamloops skater Jessica Hewitt took the last relay from Jessica Gregg, and passed the American skater in the last lap, securing a spot in tomorrow’s finals for her team.

“I knew it was going to be tight and I would have to nail that last exchange for us to do it”, said Hewitt. “The crowd was so loud I couldn’t hear my team-mates, but I just went for it and it happened!”

The men’s relay team of the Hamelin brothers, Tremblay and Jean went on to also qualify for the final, leading for the whole duration of their heat.

Tomorrow, Mendes-Campeau will be at the Pacific Coliseum for the repechage round in the 1000m starting at 8am. All other Canadian skaters but Hewitt and Charles Hamelin, disqualified yesterday in the 1000m, will be there at 2pm for the 500m and 1000m final rounds as well as the relay finals.