St. Gelais is fourth in 500 m

St. Gelais is fourth in 500 m at World Short Track Championships in Hungary

DEBRECEN, Hungary
- Marianne St. Gelais was Canada's top skater reaching the final in the 500 metres finishing fourth at the World Short Track Championships in Debrecen, Hungary. Sunday's schedule at the Fonix Arena wraps-up the championships with the 1,000 metres, the Super 3,000 metres and relay finals.

At the world championships, three athletes each skate the 500-, 1,000- and 1,500-metre distances. A super final takes place in the 3,000 metres, featuring the top eight skaters in the overall ranking. The relay rounds are skated over the three days.

St. Gelais, of St. Félicien, Que., trailed in second place behind Meng Wang of China from the start of the final and had a good gap on the third and fourth place skaters. Entering the first corner on the last lap, the 23-year-old caught an edge with her right skate and fell. Wang won the gold medal in 43.718 seconds, followed by Seung-Hi Park of Korea in 43.852 seconds and Kexin Fan of China in 44.202.

"It was different from what I'm used to," noted St. Gelais of her first three rounds to reach the final. "I started fourth on the line in the first round and the quarterfinal, so Im not used to that. Everything went well, I made it through to the final so I was pretty proud of myself. I raced differently in the 500 today, so I needed that for my preparation for the Games (Sochi 2014 Olympics). I'm happy with what I've done today.

"It was a pretty exciting, I was second (for most of the race)," added St. Gelais, reflecting on the final. "I didn't think anyone would try a pass because the race was fast with Meng Wang in front. I don't know what happened. I lost my edge with my right skate and I had no chance to come back. I made them a gift (falling to fourth place). In my heart I was second."

St. Gelais, who won the bronze medal in the 500 metres in 2010, won her first two races and was second to Wang in the quarterfinals and semifinals to reach the medal round. She stands tied for third with 21 points in the cumulative standings.

Valérie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., was in fourth place in her semifinal heat behind Wang, St. Gelais and Martina Valcepina of Italy, and did not advance. The 22-year-old won her preliminary race and was second in the qualifications and quarterfinals to reach the semifinals. She was eighth overall in the 500 metres and is seventh after two distances.

Marie-Ève Drolet, of Laterrière, Que., was second in her first two races, but third in the quarterfinals. The 31-year-old finished in 11th place in the 500 metres.

It was triple disappointed for the Canadian men in the 500 metres. Charles Hamelin, Michael Gilday and Olivier Jean were each penalized in their respective quarterfinal heats after suffering falls. With the infractions, Jean was awarded 13th place, Gilday took 14th and Hamelin 16th spot.

Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., won his preliminary race and then advanced to the quarterfinals with one of the fastest third place times in the qualification heat. In the quarterfinals, the referee penalized the 28-year-old for impeding hometown skater Viktor Knoch of Hungary. Hamelin has 13 points after two races and is sixth overall.

Gilday, of Yellowknife, won his first two races of the day to reach the quarterfinals. In his final race, both Gilday and Vladimir Grigorev of Russia were penalized for impeding. In the overall ranking, Gilday is ninth with five points.

Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., and the defending 500-metre world champion, also won his first two races. In his quarterfinal heat, he was penalized on the first attempt at starting the race for impeding the Japanese skater, Ryosuke Sakazume, in the first corner.

The men's relay team advanced to Sunday's final against Korea, the Netherlands and Russia. Hamelin, Gilday and Jean teamed-up with Charle Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., to take second place in the semifinals behind Korea and ahead of China and Hungary.