Charles Hamelin & Relay Teams add three medals to Canada’s tally in Beijing

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) won silver in the 1000m, today, at the Beijing Short Track World Cup. Both of Canada’s relay teams then captured bronze medals, to give a total of 5 medals for Canada on the first stop of the 09-10 World Cup Circuit.

All three of Canada’s men were in the top 6 in today’s 1000m action. Charles Hamelin, François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) and François-Louis Tremblay (Montréal, QC) each won their respective quarter final round. Tremblay finished 3rd in his semi-final, behind Korean Kim Seong Il and François Hamelin, and was relegated to the B final.

The final was very eventful, with many passes and a close pack of skaters. “I had to do two inside passes and one outside during the race,” explained Charles Hamelin. “Near the end, I passed my brother on the inside, he was second and I was third. I then tried to plan a move on the Korean in the last lap, but I lost my balance a bit in the last corner so I couldn’t fight for the finish.”

Lee Jung-Su took the gold medal in 1:25.630, Charles Hamelin finished in 1:25.767 for silver, Kim Seoung Il managed to pass François Hamelin in the last lap as well to take the bronze in 1:25.868, and the younger Hamelin was 4th in 1:25.929. Tremblay was second of the B final, for 6th place in the distance.

“My personal objective this weekend in China was to have good races with good strategies. My 1500m went really well, even if I finish 4th, there was a lot of movement in the final and I reacted well. Today in the 1000m, all my races went well too, so I’m pretty happy,” continued Hamelin.

On the women side, Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB) was the lone Canadian skater, as Tania Vicent (Laval, QC) was eliminated in Friday’s qualification rounds, and Kalyna Roberge (St-Étienne-de-Lauzon, QC) who suffered back pain yesterday, decided not to skate out of precaution.

Gregg, a 500m specialist, finished close third (1:34.904) in her quarter final race, behind Korean Lee Eun-Byul (1:34.860) and American Jessica Smith (1:34.917), and was not able to move to the semi-final. She finishes 10th in the distance.

The Edmonton skater was joined by Vicent, Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) and Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) for the relay final, in which Canada won the bronze medal in 4:17.495, behind Korea (4:13.531) and the United States (4:15.204). “The relay went well,” said St-Gelais. “We were fourth for most of the race, China and Korea created a big gap with us and the US, but later in the race, China made a mistake and they fell, so we took advantage of that to take the third place.”

The Hamelin brothers, Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) won their relay semi-final ahead of Italy, the US and the Netherlands. The two brothers, Jean and François-Louis Tremblay then skated in the final, where Canada took another bronze medal in 6:51.972, behind Korea (6:51.371) and China (6:51.926).

“We would have liked to win the silver,” said Hamelin. “There was a lot of action, a lot of passes, many touches too, we were second at the end, but China passed us in the last corner, so it’s a bit disappointing, but overall it was a good race. The skater passed me on the inside, he had more speed than me.”

Canada concludes the first stop of the Short Track World Cup circuit with two silver and three bronze medals, a good tally for a team that was not focusing on performing at the first two World Cup events, chosing instead to focus on the 3rd and fourth stops, in Montreal and Marquette, as they will determine each country’s Olympic quotas. Athletes and coaches will make their way to Seoul, Korea, tomorrow, for the second World Cup event of the season, starting on Thursday.