Mathieu Turcotte & Kalyna Roberge notch 500-metre wins at Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials

Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., and Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., earned victories in the 500-metre races on Friday at the Bell Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials.

In the men’s 500, Turcotte clocked 42.212 seconds taking the lead on the final turn. Francois-Louis Tremblay of Boucherville, Que., was second in 42.288 and Eric Bedard of Ste-Thecle, Que, third in 42.290. Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal, the 1,500 winner on Thursday, was fourth in 42.442 and Richard Shoebridge of Cambridge, Ont., was fifth in the final in 42.584.

“My experience should be an advantage throughout this competition,” said Turcotte, 28, a double medallist at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games now in his eighth season on the national team. “I’m very patient and that was probably the key for me today. I was disadvantaged at the start line but I waited for an opening.”

In the women’s 500, Roberge, the world junior champion at the distance last season, was also fourth off the start line and capitalized on her opportunity to get the lead and win in 44.368. Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., was second in 44.682 and Jessica Gregg of Edmonton, the daughter of former NHL defenceman Randy Gregg, was third in 44.683. Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal, the 1,500 winner on Thursday, was fourth in 45.332.

“The start was ferocious,” said Roberge, 18. “It was an aggressive race and I was glad to be in third place early on. I never panicked. It’s wide open in the women’s competition but I’m trying not too put too much pressure on myself at this point in order to maintain my concentration.”

The trials run until Sunday September 11 and will determine the five men and five women named to the short track Olympic team. The 16 men and 16 women will 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.

Competition starts each night at 8 p.m. with Sunday September 4 and Thursday September 8 being off days. The team will be officially announced on Sunday night September 11 following the final races.