Canadian Relay Team Earn Silver Medal

Vancouver (Sportcom) – With the crowd chanting CA-NA-DA! in support of Team Canada’s women in their 3000m relay, it seemed as though the roof of Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum would lift off; Team Canada earned a silver medal.  Team China won gold and the Team U.S.A. won bronze.   Team Korea, though first to cross the line, were disqualified due to blocking.

Team Canada’s strategy was simple: stay close to the Chinese and Koreans skaters for as long as possible.  Coach Sébastien Cros explained “We know that between those two teams specifically, there is a lot of competition and bumping.  In the relay event, there’s almost always disqualifications; yes, you need to skate fast, make good exchanges, but you also have to skate smart,” he stated.  Jessica Gregg (Calgary), Kalyna Roberge (Saint-Étienne-de-Lauzon), Marianne St-Gelais (Saint-Félicien) and Tania Vicent (Laval) did just what their coach ordered, skating not only fast but smart, and setting a Canadian record with their time of 4:09.137.  Team China established a world record with their time of 4:06.610. 
The eldest member of the Short Track team at 34 years old, Tania Vicent, savoured what is her last participation at the Olympic Winter Games.   “A journalist told me I was the lucky charm of the relay team. I like that but its better to not have broken that winning streak! I am thrilled though.  I love my team, travelling is great, it's the best - I'm 34 and my job is to stay in shape. You couldn't ask for a better job... but don't be mistaken, these are my last Games,” she concluded with a warm smile.

Kalyna Roberge felt relieved after the race, “A big stress has just fallen from my shoulders,” admitted the 23 year-old skater, who had until today experienced a disappointing Games.   Nevertheless, she kept things in perspective, “I think that, with everything that’s gone on at this Olympics this year, honestly, I’m very happy; when I think of Joannie and the Georgian luger, you realize that the Olympics are just a competition among many others.” 
Marianne St-Gelais now has another silver medal to keep her 500m event silver medal company.  “I came to earn the team medal; we worked so hard, the relay is an important race, I’m so happy!” commented the skater who then went to find teammate Valérie Maltais for a victory lap.  Though Maltais will not receive a medal (as she did not skate in the semi-final or final) she was an integral part of the team.

The Men: On Fire On the Ice!

All three Québécois men participating in the 500m event qualified for their following quarterfinal rounds.  Charles Hamelin and François-Louis Tremblay both won their heats, while Olivier Jean finished second behind American Apolo Anton Ohno.
If Charles Hamelin were a hockey player, word on the ice would have been that he was on fire!  Hamelin set a new Olympic record in the distance – though it didn’t last long, broken by teammate François-Louis Tremblay two heats later.  Tremblay skated the distance in 41.397 seconds.  “I feel really good,” commented the athlete from Montreal.  “I feel good enough to skate the final and get to the podium, I’m aiming for gold,” exclaimed the silver medallist in the 500m event at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
François-Louis Tremblay expressed admiration for the performance of good friend Joannie Rochette the night before.  “Joannie is a very strong girl.  Her performance impressed me, but I knew she could do it, there is nothing that can stop Joannie.”

Full Speed Ahead

In the women’s 1000m event, all three Canadians entered qualified for the quarterfinals.  If the participation of Kalyna Roberge and Jessica Gregg was certain, that of Tania Vicent rested in the hands of race officials.  Bumped by a skater from the Netherlands with three laps to go, Vicent was pushed to the outside line, and lost all her speed.  “If the officials hadn’t seen it, I would have been upset, but it was pretty obvious,” explained the skater, who is at her last Olympic Winter Games.  “I was jostled a few times during that race.  Happily though, officials saw.”  Vicent won the B Final of the 1000m event at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
The final rounds will take place Friday, February 26 - the last day of short track speed skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Highlights of the race

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Written by Sportcom for Speed Skating Canada