Seven More Canadian Medals at Québec Short Track World Cup

Just as they did last week in Montreal, short track skaters from Canada dominated the last day of the Korean Air ISU Short Track World Cup at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse in Québec City, winning a total of seven medals, including four gold.

Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) and François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC) dominated the 500m races, while Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) won gold in the 1000m and the men’s relay added the last gold of the day. The women’s relay team captured silver, and Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) and François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) added one bronze each, respectively in the 1000m and 500m.

St-Gelais was the first to race a final, in her favorite distance. As she did last weekend, the skater was dominant in all her races today, starting out front and crossing the finish first. The final was definitely her toughest race, as Italian Arianna Fontana was slowly catching up in the last lap, but St-Gelais managed to stick to her lead and take the gold in 43.740. Fontana took silver (44.099) and Chinese Fan Kexin bronze (44.225).

“I was very tired, knew I had to start fast if I wanted to have a chance to win, and it worked,” explained Marianne St-Gelais. “Near the end of the race, I looked up to the screen and saw they were close behind me, but I told myself to remain focused and keep my speed.”

Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) was facing a very tough semi-final race. She fought to the end, but finished third and was relegated to the B final, which she easily won for 5th place overall. Marie-Ève Drolet was eliminated in quarter final and finishes 12th.

There were two Canadian skaters in the men’s 500m final, Tremblay and Hamelin. They were racing against two Chinese skaters, Liang Wenhao and Yang Jin. Hamelin started out first, closely followed by Tremblay, who made a successful inside pass with one and a half lap to go. Liang managed to stick with Tremblay in the pass, and the skaters finished first and second, with respective times of 41.738 and 41.756. Hamelin was able to stick to his third place for the bronze medal (41.921) and Yang finished last in 42.009.

“It feels great to be back on the podium, it puts a good end to the weekend for me,” smiled Tremblay. “I’m happy to come back so strong after my counter performance yesterday. I was listening behind, and I knew the Chinese would eventually try to pass, but I didn’t want to make a move too fast, I was patient and it payed off.”

Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) came very close to make the final as well, but he finished just 0.015 seconds behind the second place in his heat, and had to settle for the B final, which he won easily enough, finishing 5th overall in the 500m.

One of the most exciting races of the day was the men’s 1000m final, in which were racing six skaters, including three Canadians: Hamelin, Bastille and Maxime Fortin (Rivière-du-Loup, QC). Charles Hamelin took the lead from the start, with Bastille in fourth place and Fortin in fifth. Bastille quickly made his way to second place just behind Hamelin. When American Travis Jayner made an inside pass on Fortin halfway through the race, the Canadian was deported and he found himself far behind. Hamelin and Bastille were still in front with two laps to go, but Jayner was able to sneak in between the two skaters and steal the silver medal with a time of 1:26.310. Hamelin won gold (1:26.226) and Bastille took the bronze (1:26.479). Fortin achieved his best World Cup result with a sixth place.

“The 1000m is my favorite distance, so it’s great to win it,” said Charles Hamelin, who won gold in the 500m last weekend in Montreal. “It went really well in the final, and to be able to step on the podium here, in Québec, with another canadian athlete, it’s really amazing.”

The women didn’t have the same luck on their side. Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) was the lone skater to make it to the B final. She led the race with a good gap, but slipped near the end and fell, giving her seventh place overall in the 1000m. Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) received a penalty for impeding in her semi-final and she finishes 8th, while Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) was eliminated in quarter finals for 12th place.

In the relay, the canadian women’s team was able to step a little higher on the podium than last week, as they won the silver medal in 4:13.594 behind China (4:13.008). The Americans won bronze in 4:14.380. “We managed to beat the Americans this week,” said a happy Valérie Lambert after the race. “Now we’ll have to take on the Chinese!”

The men’s relay final was an exciting one, with many passes between Canada and China in the last 10 laps. The Canadians came out stronger and took the win in 6:51.806. The Chinese fell with two laps to go, and had to settle for fourth place, which gave the silver medal to the Americans (6:53.661) and bronze to the Italians (6:54.133).

Athletes are all heading back home tomorrow, where they will spend the next month training for the third and fourth stops of the Korean Air ISU Short Track World Cup Circuit, that will take place in Asia the first two weekends of December.