Canada wins men’s title at short track team worlds

Led by Fredericton’s Jeff Scholten, Canada reclaimed the gold medal in men’s competition Sunday at the short track speed skating world team championships while the Canadian women were fourth after a heartbreaking finish to the competition.

In men’s competition, the Canadians compiled 42 points in the four-country final. South Korea was second at 36, China, the defending champions, third at 22 and Italy fourth at 16.

In the team event, there are heats in the 500, 1,000 and 3,000 metres and a relay. There is a skater from each country in each heat. The winner in each heat earns five points for his country, second place three, third place two and fourth place one.

Scholten, a world record holder, posted victories in his 500 and 1,000 heats. World Cup 500 champion, Jean-François Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., took first in his 500 and second in the 1,000, Mathieu Turcotte of Sherbrooke, Que., was second in two heats, Éric Bédard second in his 500 and Jonathan Guilmette of Montreal second in the 3,000.

‘’My speed is my bread and butter and in this type of competition format it comes in very handy,’’ said Scholten, who made the Canadian world team for the first time in his career at trials last week. ‘’I felt more confident than nervous. I knew from our past performances that we could do very well here again.’’

Guilmette, Monette, Turcotte and Bédard then led Canada to victory in the relay final clocking 6:57.910 with South Korea second in 6:58.317 and Italy third. A win in the relay is worth 10 points, second place seven and third place four.

In women’s competition, South Korea successfully defended its title with the gold with 44 points followed by China at 31, Italy at 22 and the Canadians at 21.

A wild relay final jumbled up the standings. The Italians stunned the field with a victory to overtake Canada for third spot in the team standings clocking 4:26.267. South Korea was second in 4:27.245 and the Canadians with triple World Cup champion Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, Annie Perreault of Rock Forest, Que., and Tania Vicent of Montreal were third.

The Canadians led the race with only a half a turn remaining when China’s Yang Yang A interfered with Goulet-Nadon in a passing attempt and sent Canada’s best female skater to a frightening crash into the boards. The Chinese, who needed to win the relay to get first overall, crossed the finish line first but were disqualified.

‘’What Yang Yang did wasn’t very bright,’’ said Goulet-Nadon, while icing both knees which were bruised in the fall. ‘’She was very persistent but there was no way she was going to get through. I think she panicked when she saw there was no room. It’s too bad because this was turning out to be our best relay this season.’’

Individually Goulet-Nadon won her 1,000 heat, Kraus posted a second in the 500, Vicent a third in the 1,000 and Amanda Overland of Cambridge, Ont., a third in the 1,000 as well.

The world individual championships are next weekend March 21-23 in Warsaw.