Three medals for Canada at World Cup in Russia

Three medals for Canada at World Cup in Russia
Charles Hamelin wins gold, Gabrielle Waddell has bronze and women’s relay silver

SOCHI, Russia
– Canadian Charles Hamelin continued his winning ways today with his second gold medal in as many days as he finished first in the 1,000 metres at the Samsung ISU World Cup #5 (results web site). Gabrielle Waddell won her first career individual medal earning bronze in the 500 metres, and she then joined the women’s relay team to claim the silver medal. Canada had a total of 10 top 10 finishes in today’s 500- and 1,000-metre distances.

Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., finished his World Cup season winning each of his three rounds of the 1,000 metres, and capping it in the final with a best time of one minute and 26.957 seconds. Semen Elistratov of Russia won the silver medal in 1:27.024 in front of his home crowd, while American J.R. Celski earned the bronze medal in 1:27.069. Jinkyu Noh of Korea was penalized and was fourth.

“I was trying to be more patient and save energy for the end,” said Hamelin. “So in the middle of the race, I tried a pass on the outside, but I got caught by the Korean with his deep track and I almost fell. I didn’t panic. I got back on my blades and got back to the pack. There was a lot of action, but I was able to make my way through to first and win the race. I hope this is going to be a good sign for me in one year (Sochi 2014 Olympics).”

Waddell, of Red Deer, Alta., won her first career medal in an eventful 500-metre final. She took the bronze medal in a time 58.661 seconds even though she fell in the race. Dutch skater Jorien Ter Mors also fell, but after the Canadian, allowing Waddell to take third place. Kexin Fan of China won gold in 44.195 seconds, and Arianna Fontana of Italy took the silver medal in 44.629.

“It feels pretty surreal right now. I didn’t really dream about my first World Cup medal being that I fall and then by chance that someone else falls,” said Waddell. “I deserved to be in that A final. I worked my way there. It’s the 500, it’s short track and anything can happen. I’m really happy. It’s pretty exciting.”

Jessica Hewitt, of Kamloops, B.C., took eighth place overall in the 500 metres after finishing fourth in the B final. Caroline Truchon, of Chicoutimi, Que., was 10th overall. She was eliminated in the quarterfinals after placing third behind 2013 European champion Arianna Fontana and Biba Sakurai of Japan.

Also in the men’s 1,000 metres today were Michael Gilday, of Yellowknife, who was 10th overall and Olivier Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., in 26th spot.

Gilday won both his repechage races this morning to advance to the quarterfinals. He was in contention throughout the whole race but could not pull ahead of Wenhao Liang of China and Semen Elistratov of Russia.

In his first World Cup since suffering a concussion on Nov. 30 in Japan, Jean had to qualify for the 1,000-metre quarterfinals through today’s repechage rounds, after a third place finish in his preliminary race on Friday. The 27-year old skater was second in his first repechage race and didn’t advance.

Vincent Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., represented Canada in the 500-metre A final, also the first of his career. He finished off the podium in fourth place in a time of 42.390 seconds. Dajing Wu of China won gold in 41.702 and his teammate Jiyang Yu earned silver in 41.814. Russia Vladimir Grigorev claimed the bronze medal in 42.044.

Guillaume Bastille, of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., won the 500-metre B final to place fifth overall. He reached the semifinals, but was third in his heat. Facing yesterday’s 500-metre silver and bronze medallists, Charle Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., was only 0.031 seconds from qualifying for the semifinals. He finished third in 41.629 seconds behind Dajing Wu (41.477) of China and Vladimir Grigorev (41.598) of Russia. Cournoyer finished 10th overall.

In the women’s 1,000 metres, Marianne St. Gelais, of Saint-Félicien, Que., had the best overall finish in seventh place. In the last turn of her semifinal heat, the officials penalized her for interfering with Chinese skater Qiuhong Liu. Both St. Gelais and Liu fell.

Celebrating her 31st birthday today, Marie-Ève Drolet, of Laterrière, Que., did not have the 1,000-metre quarterfinal heat she hoped for. Having to finish in the top two, she was third in her race and was also penalized. Valérie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., was also eliminated in the quarterfinals after a third place finish. Maltais was ninth overall and Drolet took 16th spot.

In the women’s relay finals, Canada finished in third place behind gold medallist China and Korea, but the Korean squad was penalized. Canada moved up to take the silver medal and Italy was awarded the bronze. Drolet, Hewitt, Maltais and St. Gelais skated in the final. Waddell also earned her first relay medal, as she skated in the quarterfinals.

Competing in the men’s relay B final, Canada faced a tough field with current World Cup point leader and world record-holder, Korea. Bastille, Hamelin, Jean and Charle Cournoyer won the race to take fifth place overall. Japan was second with Korean and Germany taking third and fourth, respectively.

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance stands at $35,000 (10 gold, 15 silver; 10 bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win. This season’s 34th medal came from Waddell today and Hamelin won the 35th. The Les Fines Lames de Sainte-Julie and Richmond Rockets Speed Skating Club will each receive $1,000 from the program for the podiums.