Three more medals for Canada at Beijing World Cup

Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) both made a trip to the podium on the last day of the Beijing World Cup. Jean took the gold in the 500m, and Hamelin the bronze in the 1000m. The two Canadian athletes then joined forces with their team-mates to snag the silver medal of the relay.

Jean showed how tough it was to beat Canadians in the 500m. After Hamelin and François-Louis Tremblay (Montreal, QC) took gold and silver in the distance yesterday, it was his turn to show the depth of the Canadian squad, and to prove to everyone that he was fully back after the injury that sidelined him all last season.

In the final, the skater started first and managed to make good use of his speed and energy throughout the race, accelerating a bit in each lap and cruising to the finish line for the gold. Koreans Sung Si-Bak and Sui Bao Ku never had a chance to catch up to Jean, and had to settle for silver and bronze.

“It feels good to get the gold, to be back on top of the podium after my injury last year,” said a smiling Jean. “I’ve been waiting for this gold medal since the first World Cup, but it didn’t come. I’m not focusing so much on results now, but I did it. It shows that all the hard work and efforts I’ve been putting in were worth it, and I will just continue doing what I’m doing now, I’m on the right track. It was a great reward to stand up there.”

The other two Canadians in the distance, Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) and Richard Shoebridge (Cambridge, ON) took 9th and 11th places, Gilday being disqualified in semi-final and Shoebridge finishing third of his quarter final heat.

In the 1000m, both Hamelin and Tremblay made their way to the final along with Koreans Lee Ho-Suk and Kwak Yoon-Gy. “It was a really close race,” explained Hamelin. “I was first for the first six laps, but with two laps to go, a Korean tried to pass me and our blades touched. I had a bit of trouble in the corners after that and I lost some speed, as my blade lost its adjustment. With only one lap in the race, the Korean managed to pass me and then in the last corner the other Korean and I were fighting for position, and I fell just before the finish line.” Lee took the gold, Kwak the silver, and Hamelin had to settle for bronze while Tremblay took the 4th position.

The Canadian women also had a good day, with three top-10 finishes. Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) keeps improving her performance day after day, and she came in 6th in the 1000m today, placing second in the B final. Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) and Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) were eliminated in the quarter finals for 11th and 16th place respectively.

In the 500m, Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) and Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) both had good performances, but Gregg was disqualified in semi-final for 8th place, and Lambert just missed the semi-final by 0,013 seconds, for 9th. Annik Plamondon was not able to successfully come out of the repechage and was 22nd.

The men’s relay team then went on to win the silver medal, just behind the Americans. “It was a good relay, the Koreans fell and were out of the way, but with a few laps to go, we had two bad exchanges and the Americans passed us, then the Chinese. I was the last skater, so I had to prepare a passed which worked on the Chinese skater, but it was too late for the Americans,” concluded Hamelin. In the final, representing Canada were Hamelin and his brother François, Jean and Gilday.

The women’s relay team of Gregg, Hewitt, Maltais and Lambert had a little bit of bad luck. With three laps to go, Gregg fell, Hewitt went on to continue, but the two girls did not make the relay properly, and by the time they realised it, it was too late, so they did not complete the race and took 4th place behind China, Korea and Italy.

This concludes a very successful World Cup stop for the Canadians, who earned a total of six medals this weekend, two gold, three silver and one bronze. The team travels to Nagano tomorrow for the fourth stop of the Short Track World Cup circuit, next weekend.