Jean Breaks Hamelin’s Plans while Local Skater Hewitt Makes World Cup Team

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) was hoping for six victories in as many races at the Fall World Cup Team Selection in short track speed skating, but Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) made sure it didn’t happen when he won the men’s 500m race today, at the Pacific Coliseum. Meanwhile, BC born skater Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) won the 1000m to earn herself a spot on the first World Cups of the season, including the one here in Vancouver on October 24-26.

Olivier Jean broke Charles Hamelin’s streak of victories when he took the honours of the men’s 500m race. Hamelin started off strong, leading the pack from the start line, but Jean passed him on the inside with just about two laps to go. Hamelin finished second and Richard Shoebridge (Cambridge, ON) was third. Hamelin and Jean would get the two spots to race the 500m in World Cups, but as they already qualified yesterday, the high performance committee will name two other skaters to the team.

Three members of the World Cup Team: Valérie Lambert, Jessica Hewitt and Jessica Gregg, Photo: Jeff Bough
On the women side, Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was the favourite from the start line. After winning the first 500m race yesterday, she repeated in the same fashion today, with her signature start: very fast. Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) followed her closely for the entire race, to finish second. Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) was third to cross the finish line, and Andréa Do-Duc (Montréal, QC) was fourth. With these results, combined with those of yesterday, Gregg and Maltais earned spots on the Fall World Cup Team, joining their team-mates Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) and Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) who qualified yesterday in the 1500m.

The next set of races was the 1000m, with two more places available for both men and women for the Fall World Cup Team. The women were up first, and Jessica Hewitt knew a first or second place would automatically give her the chance to race here in her home province again for the World Cup in October. “Yesterday, I was really disappointed, but I just put it behind me and came back focusing on today, knowing I still could make the team in the 1000m,” explained Hewitt. “I wanted it bad!”

And the victory wouldn’t be easy, with yesterday’s winner in the 1000m Anne Maltais also in the final, as well as Jessica Gregg and Valérie Maltais, who were all already qualified for the World Cup Team. Hewitt started third and stayed there for a bit, but after a few laps, she managed to make her way to second place with an outside pass on Gregg, and then passed Anne Maltais on the inside to take the lead, which she kept until the line. Anne Maltais was second, Gregg third and Valérie Maltais fourth.

“It’s really exciting, I came here knowing I could do it and now I have,” continued Hewitt. “It was cool enough being here in BC for a training camp this summer, and now for the team selection, but it’s an awesome feeling to know I’ll also be here for a World Cup… this is where the Olympics will be!”

The men’s 1000m final followed, and Charles Hamelin took the honours back, for his fifth victory of the week. His young brother François (Ste-Julie, QC) was second and Steve Robillard (Montréal, QC), third. The second place finish of the young

François and Charles Hamelin celebrating their 1-2 victory in the 1000m, Photo: Jeff Bough
Hamelin, combined with his 7th place from yesterday, allowed him to get his own spot on the Fall World Cup Team, as he finished tied in points with François-Louis Tremblay, seventh today and second yesterday, but as Hamelin is 3rd overall and Tremblay 6th, Hamelin is the one who qualifies.

“I had a tough first day, and after that, I wasn’t thinking about the World Cups anymore,” said François Hamelin. “Today, I wasn’t focusing on what had happened to me in the past, but on what was coming. It helped me focus on the rest, on the right things. It’s amazing to make the World Cup Team again, it’ll allow me to get more international experience.”

So overall, five women were able to qualify for the first World Cup stops of the season: Valérie Maltais and Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau in the 1500m, Anne Maltais and Jessica Gregg in the 500m and Jessica Hewitt in the 1000m. On the men side, only three men are pre-qualified: Charles Hamelin and Olivier Jean in the 1500m and 500m and François Hamelin in the 1000m. The last spot for women and other three spots for men will be awarded to other athletes by the High Performance Committee. The decision should be made final next week.

The first two World Cups of the season will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 17-19, and then here in Vancouver, at the Pacific Coliseum, October 24-26. The teams might change slightly for the World Cups 3 and 4 scheduled for early December in Asia as some athletes might decide not to race them, and injured athletes might come back to competition.