Canadians Just Off the Podium at Shanghai Short Track World Cup

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) could almost feel the medal around his neck, but a bad move of a Korean skater pushed him off the 1500m podium at today’s Korean Air ISU Short Track World Cup. Meanwhile, teammate Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC) finished just off the podium with a fourth place in the women’s 1000m.

Hamelin was the first Canadian skater to reach a final, today, and with eight skaters in the 1500m A final, he knew he’d have to fight hard for a medal. “It was actually one of the best 1500m I had in my career according to our coaching team,” explained Hamelin afterwards. With two laps to go, he was leading the pack, but when Korean Kim Byeong-Jun attempted an outside pass on him, he dragged him behind, forcing Hamelin to break a bit so he wouldn’t fall, which allowed the rest of the skaters to pass him. The Korean was disqualified for his move, but as it was a final, Hamelin’s ranking can’t be changed, and he ended up 7th. Korean Kim Cheol Min won the race in 2:16.190, followed by Song Weilong of China (2:16.191) and Maxime Chataignier of France (2:16.315).

“I felt good today, my semi-final went well and I knew I’d be strong in the final. I managed a good race in the final too, it didn’t end the way I wanted, but as we’ve said time and time again the objective this year isn’t to win medal, but to have good races and learn new strategies, which is exactly what I’m doing.” Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB) was fifth of his semi-final, for 15th place overall, and Dustin Miller (Kitchener, ON) was eliminated in the repechage for the 27th position.

Marie-Ève Drolet was the only other Canadian in a final, and she was facing two Chinese athletes and one skater from Korea in the 1000m. Fourth on the start line, Drolet remained in that position at the beginning of the race. She tried an outside pass which she almost managed, but the other skaters protected their lines really well, forcing Drolet to remain outside. The Canadian lost her speed and found herself once again in fourth place. “I had lost energy trying that pass, so I was a bit tired in the end. I managed to pass a Chinese and ended up third, but we touched slightly, and I lost my speed again, which allowed her to pass me back at the finish line,” said Drolet when asked to describe her race.

Cho Ha-Ri of Korea snatched the gold medal in 1:32.655. She was joined on the podium by the two Chinese athletes, Olympic Champion Zhou Yang (1:32.916) and Liu Qiuhong (1:33.505). Drolet finished just off the podium in 1:33.654. “When there are four girls in a final, of course you don’t want to end up fourth, but I’m happy with my attitude today, the Koreans and Chinese didn’t intimidate me, I raced to win,” finished Drolet.

Also in the women’s 1000m, Gabrielle Waddell (Red Deer, AB) finished 5th of her semi-final race, which places her 9th in the overall ranking. Andréa Do-Duc (Montreal, QC) took 17th place after being eliminated in the repechage final.

In the women’s 1500m, Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC) was the top Canadian today, taking the third position in the B Final, for 9th place overall. That’s a very promising result for the junior aged skater, who’s trying to gain as much experience as possible in World Cups, but whose focus this year is on the World Junior Championships in February. “My objective coming here was to make a Final, A or B, so I can say I reached it partly today by making the B Final,” explained the youngest Canadian athlete who made the trip to Asia. Teammate Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was eliminated in semi-final and ends up 14th.

Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NT) was hoping to podium again in the men’s 1000m, but he was facing a very tough semi-final. He led four fast laps, but was passed near the end of the race and couldn’t qualify for the A final. He finished second in the B final, for 6th place overall. Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) had a similar fate in semi-final, finishing third behind two skaters from Korea. He also raced in the B final and finishes 8th in the distance. Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) ends up 13th after being eliminated in the quarter final round.

Gregg, Drolet, Marceau and Waddell teammed up for the women’s relay semi-final, in which they took the second position in 4:22.035, behind Korea (4:19.245) but just ahead of Russia (4:22.289). “We knew the Russians would be strong, they had good times in the last few relay races,” explained Drolet. “I was finishing the relay and the Russian skater passed me in the last exchange, but right away I built my speed to the maximum and passed her again, making my way to the finish ahead of her.” The Canadian team will race in the final against Korea, China and Italy tomorrow.

The men’s relay team (Hamelin, McFarlane, Gilday and Jean) also took the second position of their race with a time of 6:51.856. Korea won the race in 6:51.738, and the other two teams fell during the race. The Canadians will face Korea, China and the Netherlands in tomorrow’s final.

Tomorrow, skaters will battle it out in the relay finals, but also in the 500m and the last 1500m event of the weekend.