Canada opens short track worlds with silver & bronze

Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal won the silver medal and Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., added bronze in Friday’s opening 1,500-metre races at the short track speed skating world championships.

In the men’s 1,500, defending champion Hyun-Soo Ahn of South Korea took the gold medal clocking two minutes and 16.376 seconds. Guilmette was second in 2:16.418 and Suk-Woo Song of South Korea was third in 2:16.657.

National team rookie Steve Robillard of Montreal also reached the final and was fifth in 2:16.983. Jean-Francois Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., was eliminated in the semfinal for ninth place.

“The Koreans set a strong rhythm at the start and I tried to be patient,” said Guilmette, a double Olympic medallist in 2002. “Ahn is certainly the man to beat right now. He’s very difficult to pass and is very durable particularly in the longer distances. But this is the kind of start I wanted at these championships. I felt strong and it took the world champion to beat me.”

In the women’s 1,500, Eun-Kyung Choi of South Korea was the winner in 2:28.048, Meng Wang of China second in 2:28.299 and Kraus registered her first career individual medal at the worlds with the bronze in 2:29.573.

“My confidence was really low heading into this competition so this is exactly what I needed,” said Kraus, a member of Canada’s Olympic bronze medal-winning relay team at the 2002 Games. “In the semifinal I had one of my best races ever. Then in the final, the field started very fast. Several skaters just died at the end and I took advantage.”

Tania Vicent of Montreal and Amelie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., were eliminated in the semifinals for 12th and 18th respectively.

In the men’s 5,000 relay preliminaries, Canada won its heat with Monette, Robillard, Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., and Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que.

Competition continues Saturday.