Jean wins gold, Hamelin silver at 2012 World Championships

Jean wins gold, Hamelin silver at 2012 World Short Track Championships

SHANGHAI, China
– Canadians Olivier Jean and Charles Hamelin dominated the 500-metre final and took the first two positions today at the 2012 ISU World Short Track Championships in Shanghai, China. Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., was the champion in a time of 41.077 seconds, while Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., was only 0.109 seconds (41.186) behind his teammate to claim the silver medal over Yoon-Gy Kwak (41.479) of South Korea.

Jean, who was also this season’s World Cup champion in the 500 metres, cruised through four races to get to the finals winning each of them. Hamelin also won each of his preliminary, heat, quarter-final and semifinal races. Guillaume Bastille of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., was third in his semifinal behind Jean and Kwak and did not qualify for the final. He finished sixth overall.

“I led in almost all my races from start to finish by skating fast,” said Jean. “It provided me with a good starting position in the final and allowed me with win in the end. The progress I made throughout this season has helped me in this competition.”

“It was a day for Canadians,” said Hamelin. “The final was quite fast. I tried to strategize more in the final than to skate as fast as I could. I didn’t succeed in staying in front, though. One-two Canada – that’s really great.”

The last time Canadian men took the two first positions at the world championships was in 2007. Charles Hamelin won gold in the 500 metres and François-Louis Tremblay of Alma, Que., had the silver. The most recent Canadian double-podium was in 2010 when François Hamelin won the 500 metres silver medal and Tremblay took the bronze. At the 2009 championships, Charles Hamelin won the 500 metres and Jean skated to a bronze medal.

The Canadian women were kept out of today’s 500-metre final. Although qualifying through her first two races, Marie-Ève Drolet of Laterrière, Que., was advanced from the quarter-finals to the semifinals because of a penalty by Jorien Ter Mors of the Netherlands. Drolet fell in the quarter-finals from the contact and suffered a broken tooth.

Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Que., won her first three races. While Maltais and Drolet were fourth in their respective semifinals, Maltais fell out of contention early after falling in one of the first of four-and-a-half laps. Only the top two skaters of each heat reached the final. Kexin Fan of China won the gold medal, while Italy’s Arianna Fontana was second and American Lana Gehring was third.

In the men’s semifinal relay, Hamelin and Jean teamed-up with Tremblay and Liam McFarlane of Medicine Hat, Alta., to win their heat in six minutes and 52.538 seconds. Canada will face Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands in Sunday’s final. It will be Canada, China, South Korea and the United States in the women’s final.

The 1,000 and Super 3,000 metres, for the top skaters, will also take place Sunday.

CBC TV World Championships broadcast schedule:
Today at 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (also online at CBCSports.ca)
Sunday, March 11, 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.

Radio-Canada World Championships broadcast schedule:
Saturday, March 10, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, March 11, 5 p.m. to 5 p.m.