Roberge & Hamelin strike first at short track speed skating national team trials

Olympic team members Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., opened the short track speed skating national team trials Friday with victories in their respective 1,500 metre races.

In the women’s 1,500, Roberge clocked first in 2:25.09 with Amanda Overland of Montreal second in 2:25.18 and national developmental team member Ivanie Blondin of Orleans, Ont., third in 2:25.75.

"A win like this obviously helps my confidence," said Roberge, 20. "I was satisfied with my race, I kept myself among the top-three the entire race. In Canada, the trials are really tough because we know each other so well. And the races are always consistently fast."

Anouk-Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal was fourth in 2:26.299, Annik Plamondon of Longueuil, Que., fifth in 2:28.255 while Nita Avrith of Montreal was disqualified.

In the men’s 1,500, Hamelin was the victor in 2:15.08 just ahead of Olivier Jean of Lachenaie, Que., in second at 2:15.17 and Marc-André Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., third in 2:15.25.

"At a trials there’s nothing better than getting a win in the first race," said Hamelin, who won two individual medals at the opening two World Cups last month in Asia. "And this first race was very tough. I used a good strategy to make sure I had enough energy to capitalise on my opportunities to pass and to pull out a win at the end."

Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal was fourth in 2:15.65, François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal fifth in 2:15.76, Michael Gilday of Yellowknife sixth in 2:16.10 and Nathaniel Therrien of St-Romuald, Que., seventh in 2:18.70.

The skaters are battling for spots on the Canadian team for the World Cup stops December 2-3 at Saguenay, Que., and December 8-10 in Montreal. The top-three overall automatically earn berths on the team while the other three selections are coaches’ decisions.

Competition continues through to Sunday.