Kraus & Bedard assure nominations at Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials

Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., and Eric Bedard of Ste-Thecle, Que., assured their nominations to the Olympic team Saturday night with victories in the 500-metre races to conclude day eight at the Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials.

In the women’s 500, Kraus clocked 44.990 seconds for her second victory at the trials. Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal was second in 45.049 and Annik Plamondon of Longueuil, Que., third in 45.164.

Kraus, a member of the bronze medal winning relay team at the 2002 Olympics, assures her nomination by finishing first in the 500 standings at the trials. She also won the previous 500 race on Wednesday and placed second in the first 500 last Friday.

“It’s a big relief,” said Kraus, 28. “I didn’t necessarily need a win tonight but I wanted to be aggressive and show I that deserved that spot. It’s been strange to have the trials in September but now it’s great to know that I can just focus on the Olympics instead.”

In the men’s 500, Bedard, a three-time Olympic medallist and a member of the last two Games teams, clocked 42.255 for his first win this week. Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., was second in 42.271 and Daryl Rasmussen of Prince George, B.C., third in 42.506.

Bedard trailed Francois-Louis Tremblay of Montreal in the 500 standings entering Saturday’s race but Tremblay wound up second in the B final to squander the lead.

“I was in control of all my heats today and I felt I was probably due for a win,” said Bedard, who missed three months of competition last season with a backside injury. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to qualify for the team here this week but I’ll certainly take it by winning a distance.”

The trials which started on September 1, determine the five men and five women named to the short track Olympic team for the Games this February in Turin. The 16 men and 16 women contest each Olympic distance (500, 1,000 and 1,500) three times at the trials. The top skater overall at each distance gets an automatic selection to the team while the other selections are based on the overall standings from the entire meet.

Tremblay still leads the men’s overall standings followed by Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., in second, Hamelin in third, Jonathan Guilmette in fourth and Bedard in fifth.

On the women’s side, Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., leads overall with Kraus second, Le Blanc-Boucher third, Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que., fourth and Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., still in fifth despite missing the last three races due to injury.

Competition ends Sunday with the men’s and women’s 1,000 metres. The team will be nominated shortly after the last race.