Canada earns two Olympic spots in both men’s & women’s 1,500 at short track speed skating World Cup

Canada didn’t win any medals Friday but guaranteed itself two spots in both the men’s and women’s 1,500-metres for this February’s Olympics at the World Cup final in short track speed skating.

Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal and Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., gained the 1,500 Olympic spots for the women and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., took the men’s 1,500 spots. The spots for the 500, 1,000 and relays will be determined in this weekend’s races.

Results from this weekend’s competition are combined with those from last week's World Cup meet to determine how many skaters from each country qualify for the Turin Games.

In Friday’s women’s 1,500 final, Sun-Yu Jin of South Korea took the gold in 2:33.441, Meng Wang of China was second in 2:33.579 and Chun-Sa Byun of South Korea third in 2:33.820.

All three Canadians were eliminated in the semifinals. Leblanc-Boucher, Overland and Tania Vicent of Vercheres, Que., ranked 11th, 13th and 15th respectively.

‘’It’s marvelous to get an individual race at the Olympics, it takes a big load off my shoulders,’’ said Leblanc-Boucher, 21, in her second season on the national team. ‘’I thought I raced really well today and learned some valuable lessons. I think I’m on the cusp of being a consistent finalist in the 1,500.’’

Jin took the season World Cup 1,500 title with Overland the top Canadian in seventh.

In the men’s 1,500, Hyun-Soo Ahn led South Korea to a 1-2 finish clocking 2:26.838 with Ho-Suk Lee second in 2:26.909 and Jiajun Li of China third in 2:27.353.

Again, all three Canadians were eliminated in the semfinals. Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal, Hamelin and Turcotte ranked 16th, 17th and 18th respectively. Hamelin and Turcotte both fell in their semifinal races.

‘’It was a pretty stressful situation today and I thought I managed it really well,’’ said Hamelin, 21, also a national team sophomore. ‘’In the semi today I was on my way to the final but I lost my concentration with three laps to go. When you get into the semis, it’s a very deep field, everyone has the ability to advance.’’

Ahn took the World Cup season 1,500 title with Hamelin, Guilmette and Turcotte placing fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

Canada also advanced to the relay semifinals by winning their heats. The men’s 5,000 relay skaters were Hamelin, Guilmette, Éric Bédard of Ste-Thècle, Que., and François-Louis Tremblay of Montreal and the women’s 3,000 foursome members were Leblanc-Boucher, Vicent, Kalyna Roberge of Ste-Etienne-de-Lauzon, Que., and Alanna Kraus of Abbostford, B.C.