Canada wins two relay medals at short track speed skating World Cup

A trio of rookies helped Canada win silver and bronze medals in the men’s and women’s relay respectively on Sunday to conclude the fifth stop on the short track speed skating World Cup circuit.

In the men’s 5,000-metre relay final, China took the gold medal clocking 6:52.338 while Canada followed in 6:53.554 and Italy was third in 6:57.516. Skating for Canada was Jean-François Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., Éric Bédard of Ste-Thécle, Que., Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., and Steve Robillard of Montreal.

Hamelin and Robillard, both 19, are national team rookies who made the world team with big performances at the Canadian championships last month. Robillard won the national overall crown.

“It was their first relay in the big leagues and I was very impressed,” said Canadian national team coach Guy Thibault of Le Gardeur, Que. “There’s some fine tuning to be done but even in the individual races they showed they belonged.”

In the women’s 3,000 relay final, China won again in 4:19.859, Italy was second in 4:21.090 and Canada was third in 4:26.544. The Canadian skaters were Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., Alanna Kraus of Abbotsford, B.C., Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., and another rookie Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal. Leblanc-Boucher won the world junior title in the 500 last month.

“There’s a lot of progress being made in the women’s relay and our goal is to have them at the top at the Olympics,” said Thibault. “Anouk did well in her first relay with the team and Amanda is another youngster on the rise who made some very nice passes.”

In the individual races, Monette, the 500-metre winner on Saturday, was fourth in the 1,000 and fifth in the 3,000. Hamelin and Robillard were eliminated in the 1,000 semifinal and placed fifth and eighth respectively.

On the women’s side, Kraus, third in the 500 Saturday, was sixth in the 3,000 and eliminated in the 1,000 semifinal for seventh. Goulet-Nadon was ousted in the 1,000 quarter final for 15th and Overland bowed out in the heats for 19th.

The Koreans continued to dominate with world champions Hyun-Soo Ahn placing first overall in men’s competition and Eun-Kyung Choi tops for the women. Monette was fourth overall and Kraus eighth.