Medals, temporary world record for Canadian rookies in wild conclusion to World Cup short track season

Teenagers Steve Robillard of Montreal and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., stole the show for Canada on Saturday as they combined forces for three individual medals, one briefly held world record and then helped the men’s relay to gold to conclude the World Cup season in short track speed skating.

Robillard, Hamelin, both 19, and Olympic medallists Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., and Éric Bédard of Ste-Thècle, Que., took the men’s 5,000-metre relay final in six minutes and 51.069 seconds. China was second in 6:52.619 and the U.S., third in 6:53.083.

“We were absolutely dominant in this race with our speed and we crushed the competition,” said Turcotte, who also won gold in the 500 on Saturday and bronze in the 1,500 on Friday. “I can’t say enough about the work of Steve and Charles. They showed they can do the job at this level. What a future for these guys.”

It was Canada’s first victory this season in the men’s relay and they finished second the event’s World Cup standings with 197 points, just three behind first place China. The Chinese had actually locked up the World Cup title before the race with four victories this season.

In the men’s 1,000 final, world champion Jiajun Li of China took the victory in a world record time of 1:24.674 with Robillard second in 1:24.864- the third fastest time ever- and Hamelin third in 1:24.991. It was the first career World Cup medal for both Canadians.

In the semifinals, Hamelin initially broke the world mark clocking 1:24.850. ‘’What’s funny is Charles did all the work in the final too,’’ said Turcotte, eliminated in the first round. “He led almost the whole race but Li is a very clever racer. It almost seems like he stole the record from Charles. But that’s part of the game in short track.’’

In the men’s 3,000, Apollo Anton Ohno of the U.S., was the winner in 5:11.538, Robillard took the silver again in 5:11.864 and Suk-Woo Song of South Korea was third in 5:11.833. Turcotte was fourth in 5:12.112 and Hamelin fifth in 5:12.231.

The Canadian women were shutout of the medals. In the 1,000, Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal and Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., reached the semis for fifth and sixth respectively while Chantale Sévigny of Sherbrooke was eliminated in the first round.

In the 3,000, Leblanc-Boucher, another rookie on the team, was seventh.

In the women’s 3,000 relay final, China and Italy were 1-2 while Canada and South Korea were disqualified in separate incidents.

South Koreans swept the overall World Cup crowns with Hyun-Soo Ahn taking the men’s title and Eun-Kyung Choi the women’s crown. The top Canadians were Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal for the men and Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., for the women. They were both fifth.

Canada placed second behind South Korea in the men’s team rankings while the Canadian women were third behind China in first and South Korea. Guilmette was third in the men’s 1,000 World Cup standings and Goulet-Nadon third in the women’s 500 standings.

Now the Canadians return home to Montreal to prepare for the world team championships and world championships next month in St. Petersburg, Russia and Gothenburg, Sweden respectively.