Canadian Short Track Skaters Shine on First Day of World Cup #5

The Canadian short track speed skating team had a great day in Sofia, at the first World Cup stop after a two month break from international competition. Almost all athletes have qualified directly for the final rounds to be held tomorrow and Sunday.

“It was a great day but very long for our team”, explained Yves Hamelin, Short Track Program Director for Speed Skating Canada. “The zamboni broke which made us late for the relay at the end of the day, but we are very happy with the races of our athletes today.”

On the men side, François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC), Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC) dominated all their races in the 1000m and 500m, always crossing the line first and ensuring they get good starting positions in the quarter final rounds.

A few weeks after being crowned Canadian Champion, Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) also won each of his race without surprise, and will be of the semi-finals in the 1500m and 1000m quarter finals this weekend. In the 1500m, teammate Marc-André Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) also won his heat and will join Hamelin in semi-final tomorrow, while Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) was disqualified for impeding and will now have to focus on his other distance, the 1000m, for which he qualified. Monette, a specialist of the 1500m, also managed to qualify for the 1000m quarter final by finishing second of both his qualification rounds.

“Guillaume was badlucky in his 1500m race, we believe his disqualification had no reason to be called”, continued Yves Hamelin.

It was a similar scenario on the women’s site, as almost all of the women were able to qualify for the 1000m and 500m quarter finals. Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) and Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), who finished first and second at the Canadian Open Championships a few weeks ago in Montreal, proved those results were well deserved. Both athletes dominated all their races in the 500m and also qualified for the 1000m quarter final.

In the 500m, teammate Anne Maltais (Québec, QC) will join them in quarter final rounds. Maltais will however go through the repechage tomorrow morning for a chance to skate with Gregg and Roberge in the 1000m quarter final tomorrow afternoon. According to Yves Hamelin, Short Track Program Director, Maltais was victim of the impeding of another athlete who was not called for it.

Marie-Ève Drolet (Saguenay, QC) did well on her return to the World Cup circuit. The 27-year old athlete came back to competition earlier this year after a six year break to focus on her studies. She finished 6th overall at the Canadian Open Championships, earning the chance to represent Canada for the last two stops of the World Cup Circuit. Drolet was second of her 1500m race, and will be of the semi-final rounds tomorrow, and she was also able to qualify straight to the quarter finals of the 1000m to be raced Sunday in Sofia.

Two other athletes will join her in the 1500m semi-final, as both Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) and Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau, QC), who is making her debut on the World Cup Circuit, skated fast enough to qualify.

In the 1000m, however, Hewitt and Marceau were third of their respective heat and will need to go through the repechage for a hope to make it to the podium.

To conclude the day, the women’s relay team made of Gregg, Roberge, Marceau and Drolet went on to win their quarter final race, finishing ahead of the Italians. The men’s team – Jean, les frères Hamelin and Bastille – went on to do the same, finishing first ahead of the Japanese team.

“Marie-Ève and Laurie did very well in their individual races at their first World Cup [of the season for Drolet] and they helped to qualify the relay team for the semi-final. The men’s team qualified easily by creating a gap of a lap and a half between them and their opponents”, finished a very satisfied Yves Hamelin at the end of the day.

Competition resumes tomorrow in Sofia. Anne Maltais will be the first in action in the 1000m repechage, and her teammates will step on the ice in the afternoon for the final rounds of the 1500m and 1000m, as well as the relay semi-finals.