Hamelin Golden Twice in Montreal, Roberge Takes Silver

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) sent a message to his competitors on Day 3 of the Montreal ISU World Cup Short Track, when he took the two gold medals up for grab in the 1500m and 500m. Teammate Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne de Lauzon, QC) added a silver in the 500m under loud cheering from the home crowd.

Charles Hamelin wins the first Canadian gold medal in the 1500m since 2000, Photo: Simon Pichette
Hamelin’s first medal came in the 1500m, an event in which Canadian men only ever won one World Cup gold medal (Jonathan Guilmette in 2000). “It was the perfect race,” he said as he came off the ice. “I was patient during the race, I made the right passes when needed, I could not have done better.”

The race was not an easy one, with seven skaters on the start line, including three Koreans. Hamelin took off in second place, but in the next few laps, two of the Korean skaters passed him, as well as Yuri Confortola of Italy and Travis Jayner of the US. With 7 laps to go, Hamelin made his move, taking the lead with a beautiful inside pass. Hamelin exchanged the lead with Kim Seoung Il, and then Sung Si-Bak for a few laps. Second to Sung with just one lap to go, Hamelin prepared a perfect pass for the finish, and won the race in 2:19.220, just 0.001 second faster than Sung in second (2:19.221), and Travis Jayner took the bronze medal in 2:19.560.

Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) was disqualified in his semi-final for impeding in the last lap, as he was fighting with American Jeff Simon for the second place. Jean winds up 14th overall. Teammate Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) was eliminated in quarter final on Thursday, for 17th place.

In the 500m, Hamelin came back strong, easily winning his first three races and qualifying for the final. Jean and François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC) also made it through the first two rounds. In semi-final, Tremblay and Jean were in the same heat. Tremblay managed to win the race at the finish, but Jean slipped in a corner with 3 ½ laps to go and wasn’t able to catch up afterwards, finishing fourth.

The final was all American, with two skaters from Canada and two from the US. Hamelin took off in first place, followed by Tremblay. Halfway through the race, Tremblay tried to pass inside but lost his edge and found himself in fourth place. Meanwhile, Hamelin sprinted to the finish in 41.576, never letting Americans Apolo Anton Ohno (41.807) and Jeff Simon (41.870) pass, and the skaters crossed the line in that order. Tremblay was fourth in 42.440. Jean finished 4th of the B final, for 8th place overall.

“It’s incredible!”, jubilated Hamelin after winning his second gold medal of the day. “Every time I step on the ice, it’s to win, but to get out of this with two gold medals, I couldn’t ask for more, and I’m completely satisfied!”

Kalyna Roberge also offered a solid performance in the 500m. She made her way

Kalyna Roberge ahead of Wang Meng in the 500m final, Photo: Simon Pichette
through the first rounds by playing it smart, ensuring her qualification and giving it all at the finish line, hoping to get the best possible time, as it helps determine starting positions. It payed off as Roberge was second on the start line in the final, surrounded by three Chinese skaters and Korean Park Seung-Hi.

The Canadian managed to keep her position coming off the first corner, just behind Chinese Wang Meng, who has dominated short distances for many years now on the circuit. One lap into the race, Roberge gave reason to the crowd to cheer louder as she managed an amazing inside pass on Wang, taking the lead. Wang took back her first position a lap later, and while Roberge tried to pass her at the finish line, she had to settle for second place in 44.183. Wang crossed the line in 44.124, and the bronze medal went to Chinese Zhao Nannan in 44.251.

“At the end of the race, I wasn’t looking to beat the Chinese skater behind me, but the one ahead,” said Roberge. “That’s why I wasn’t even trying to protect my second place. Today, I showed what I can do, I proved that Wang Meng isn’t as comfortable as we think when she’s in the lead, even with both hands behind her back.”

Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was disqualified in semi-final, for 8th place overall, and Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) slipped and fell in her quarter final, taking the 16th position.

In the women’s 1500m, Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) and Kalyna Roberge were both in the B Final. Maltais finished 5th and Roberge 6th, for 11th and 12th place overall. Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) was eliminated in quarter final Thursday, and finishes 25th.

Races resume at 12pm on Sunday, at the Maurice-Richard Arena, where Roberge, St-Gelais, Vicent, Hamelin and his young brother François will be competing in the 1000m, and will then be joined by their teammates for the semi-final and final of the relay.