Roberge Dominates Once Again at the Canadian Open Championships, & Robillard Wins on the Men’s Side

Montréal, January 20, 2008 – Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) added one gold medal to her collection today, at the Canadian Open Championships in Montreal, this time in the 1000m. On the men side, Steve Robillard (Montreal, QC) finished first of a very tough 5-men final.

It was a quiet final on the women side. Roberge was in the lead for the main part of the race, followed by Amanda Overland (Montréal, QC), Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) and Tania Vicent (Laval, QC). The skaters crossed the finish line in that order.

The victory gave Kalyna Roberge the title of Canadian Champion. The young skater has not lost a race in national team selections in the last two seasons. Vicent and Overland ended up second and third in the Championships ranking.

“I’m happy with my weekend”, explained Vicent. “I started off well on Friday, before having an ordinary performance in the 500m. Today, I really wanted to make the final as I was ensuring to stay in the top three. After being kept away from competing last season because of an injury, I’m really happy that I managed to come back and win a ticket for the World Championships.”

In men’s racing, everything led to think the final would be closely disputed, as five skaters were part of it, including quick youngsters François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) and Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) who both had an amazing weekend, powerful Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) and giants Steve Robillard (Montréal, QC) and Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (Sherbrooke, QC).

Monette started in the front, knowing it was the best strategy to adopt. The skaters all saw the race the same way, so there were a lot of passes as all skaters were trying to take the lead. Bastille was first to succeed, with seven laps to go, but Hamelin and Robillard followed quickly. With two laps left in the race, Monette and Bastille went down, and Robillard and Hamelin created a gap, finishing in that order. Boisvert-Lacroix was third to cross the line.

Following his victory, Steve Robillard was relieved. “I had a tough day Friday, and I was really nervous. I didn’t know if I could make up positions in the overall rankings to qualify for Worlds. My confidence came back because I did really well in the 500m, and today, once in the final, I knew the best thing to do was to be in the front. Once I managed to get there, I heard the guys fall behind me and I did everything I could to stay in the lead until the end.”

With this result, François Hamelin was crowned Canadian Champion, taking over the title that his brother Charles won last year. Bastille is vice-champion and Charles Hamelin had to settle for third.

The combined results of the Canadian Open Championships and the first national team selection that was held in Calgary last September are also used to select the teams that will represent Canada at the World Short Track Championships in March and in the last two World Cups of the season.

For World Cups, including the next stop that will be held in Québec City February 1-3, canadian skaters will be: Kalyna Roberge, Tania Vicent, Anne Maltais, Amanda Overland, Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) and Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC). Their male counterparts will be Charles Hamelin, Marc-André Monette, Steve Robillard, Jean-François Monette, and the two other positions will be filled this week.

As for the World Short Track Championships team, it will be made of Roberge, Vicent, Maltais, Overland, and Gregg on the women side, and Hamelin, the Monette brothers, Robillard and one athlete to be named this week.