Hamelin wins gold in 500 m at World Cup

Charles Hamelin wins gold in 500 m at World Cup in Russia
Inuvik Speed Skating Club to receive $1,000 for the medal from World Cup Podium Tracker

SOCHI, Russia
– Canadian Charles Hamelin continued his medal collection this season winning the gold medal in the first 500-metre race by three one thousandths of a second at the Samsung ISU World Cup #5 (results web site). This was Hamelin’s eighth medal in nine individual races this season and second gold medal. Canada also had six other top 10 finishes in today’s 500- and 1,500-metre distances.

Races resume tomorrow at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Russia, with the 1,000-metre and second 500-metre races, as well as the relay finals.

In an exciting 500-metre final, Hamelin was in second place throughout behind Chinese skater Dajing Wu. The Canadian team’s senior skater, with the most World Cups and medals, tried unsuccessfully to pass Wu until the very last split-second when the native of Sainte-Julie, Que., kicked out his foot at the finish line to win in a time of 41.092 seconds. Wu crossed the line at 41.095 for the silver medal and Vladimir Grigorev took bronze in 41.165 seconds.

“It’s a different race that I usually in the final,” said Hamelin. “In the 500, I usually lead or I’m second, but in the first lap I will pass to make sure I’m leading for the reminder of the race. Today I was second right off the start and I tried to make a pass after two and a half laps, but without success. I knew my last chance was going to be at the finish and I took that chance. We finished the race and I waited impatiently for the result. I got the gold medal.”

In his 500-metre quarterfinal heat, Olivier Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., lost a skate edge in the turn and fell. He finished in fourth place and was eliminated. Jean finished 15th overall. Vincent Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., taking part in his first career quarterfinal, did not have the start he wanted in his race and fell back to third place. He was eliminated and took 11th spot overall.

In the first women’s 500 metres, Marianne St. Gelais, of Saint-Félicien, Que., finished fifth overall, followed by Gabrielle Waddell of Red Deer, Alta., in sixth place and Caroline Truchon of Chicoutimi, Que., in seventh. They took first, second and third places, respectively, in the B final. St. Gelais and Truchon reached the B final after placing third and fourth, respectively, in one semifinal, and Waddell was third in hers.

In the men’s 1,500 metres, Charle Cournoyer of Boucherville, Que., won the B final to take ninth place overall, and teammate Guillaume Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., was 12th overall after placing fourth in the B final. Bastille and Cournoyer were third in their own semifinals to skate in the B final.

In the women’s 1,500 metres, Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Que., was the top Canadian earning seventh place overall after winning the B final. Jessica Hewitt of Kamloops, B.C., took second place in the B final for eighth overall. Marie-Ève Drolet of Laterrière, Que., was 16th overall. In their semifinal heats, Hewitt and Maltais were in third place, while Drolet was sixth.

In the women’s relay semifinals, Canada took second place behind the Koreans to qualify for the A final. Drolet, Hewitt, Maltais and St. Gelais skated for Canada. They will meet China, Italy and Korea in the top final.

After an unfortunate fall with fewer than three laps to go, the Canadian men’s team will have to be satisfied to vie for top spot in the B final. Charle Cournoyer, Michael Gilday of Yellowknife, Hamelin and Jean made up Canada’s foursome for the semifinals. In an exchange, Cournoyer pushed Gilday, who was tripped up in the legs of another skater pushing off his teammate.

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance stands at $33,000 (9 gold, 15 silver; 9 bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. This season’s 33rd medal came from Hamelin today. The Inuvik Speed Skating Club will receive $1,000 from the program.