Successful Day for Canadian Short Track Skaters in Shanghai

After some tough luck on last week’s qualification day at the third stop of the Korean Air ISU Short Track World Cup Circuit, Canadian skaters caught a break, today, as they were competing in the qualification rounds of the fourth stop of the circuit in Shanghai, China. Things seemed to fall into place for the athletes and most of them find themselves in prime position to enter the final rounds to take place tomorrow (1500m and 1000m) and Sunday (500m and 1500m).

The only downside for the Canadians is that Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montréal, QC) has to sit out this weekend’s competitions. The young skater was brought down in two falls last week, in which she hurt her shoulder, and the Canadian team officials feel it would be too risky for her to race this weekend. “Another fall on her shoulder could have serious consequences for Marie-Andrée,” explained Team Leader Yves Hamelin.

Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) and Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC) were the only two representatives of Canada in the first 1500m event of the weekend, and they both secured spots in tomorrow’s semi-final round. Marceau finished fourth of her race, after a contact with a Russian skater during a pass made her lose momentum, but the Russian athlete was disqualified for the move and Marceau was advanced to the next round. Gregg secured her spot thanks to a second place finish in her heat.

The 1000m proved the toughest event of the day for the women, and two skaters will have to go through tomorrow’s repechage if they want a shot at the podium. Andréa Do-Duc (Montréal, QC) and Gabrielle Waddell (Red Deer, AB), two sprinters, were respectively eliminated in the preliminaries and heats, and will have to get up early to race tomorrow. Teammate Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC), however, had a very strong day of racing and easily qualified for tomorrow’s quarter final round.

“Marie-Ève skated really well today,” said Hamelin. “She was consistent in all her races, had great control in the execution of her racing strategies. Overall, she was definitely our strongest women on the ice today and it’s looking great for her for the rest of the weekend.”

The afternoon was a great one for Team Canada, as it saw strong races from all its women. Gregg and Do-Duc both took the second place of their 500m heat to qualify for the quarter finals, while Drolet won her 1500m by posting the fastest time of the day. Marceau and Waddell also qualified for the 1500m semi-final round when they took the third place in their respective race.

The men also had a much better day than they had last week. Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) dominated all of his races today, in the 1500m and 500m, to ensure a smooth path to the final rounds. Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB) was third of his 1500m qualification round, but his fast time was sufficient for him to qualify straight for the semi-final tomorrow. Teammate Dustin Miller (Kitchener, ON) didn’t have that luck, and despite his third place finish he will have to go through the repechage.

In the 1000m, Canada will be well represented in the quarter final round as Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC), Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) and Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) all managed to secure their place.

McFarlane will join Hamelin in the 500m quarter finals, but they will be the only two representatives for Canada there, as Dustin Miller was disqualified for kicking out. “It’s a bit disappointing,” explained Yves Hamelin. “Dustin had a good race, it was very tight at the finish but he knew he was third, and he lifted his skate in frustration, which led to the disqualification. Had he remained calm, he could still have a shot by going through the repechage.”

In the 1500m, both Jean and Gilday took second place of their heat, enough to qualify for the final. Beaulieu will however have to go through the repechage as he was third in his race. He found himself slightly behind the first skaters, and when they accelerated it kept him from attempting a pass. Canada’s Team Leader however feels confident that Beaulieu will be able to make his way successfully through the repechage, as he has been skating extremely well lately.

“Overall, this was a great day for us,” concluded Yves Hamelin. “All members of the team were in control of their races. They raced well, nothing unpredictable happened and we had no tough luck like last week. It also seems like the refereeing is becoming more and more consistent, the decisions this week really reflect the new rules and their intent, which is very encouraging.”

The day ended with the relay qualification. Gregg, Drolet, Do-Duc and Marceau teammed up on the women side, and they easily finished first ahead of Germany and the Netherlands. They will be facing Korea, Russia and Germany in tomorrow’s semi-final.

The men’s team of Hamelin, Gilday, Jean and Miller followed suit, completing the race over six seconds ahead of Japan and Kazakhstan. They will compete against Korea, Russia and Japan tomorrow, hoping to qualify for the final and win their fourth straight relay race.