Day 1 of World Cup in Germany

Qualifications on Day 1 of the Samsung ISU Short Track World Cup in Germany

DRESDEN, Germany
- In his second competition since suffering a concussion on Nov. 30 in Japan, Canadian Oliver Jean won his four races today to the advance to the 500- and 1,000-metres quarterfinals at the Samsung ISU World Cup #6 in Dresden, Germany.

Today’s races, at Energie Verbund Arena, featured the qualifying rounds for the two 1,500-metre races, the 500 metres, the 1,000 metres and the men’s and women’s relay quarterfinals.

Canada’s six men and six women each compete in two individual races. Saturday’s races will see the 1,000 metres, the first of two 1,500-metre competitions and the men’s and women’s relay semifinals. On Sunday, skaters will compete in the 500-metre and second 1,500-metre races, as well as the relay finals.

Jean, of Lachenaie, Que., was the top skater in both his 1,000-metre races to qualify for Saturday’s quarterfinals. He will be joined by Charle Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., who took second place in both of his races. Michael Gilday, of Yellowknife, will look to qualify through the repechage after winning his preliminary heat, but placing third in the qualifying race.

In the men’s first 1,500 metres, all three Canadians moved on to Saturday’s semifinals. Vincent Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., was third in his heat but qualified with the fastest third place time. Both Guillaume Bastille, of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., and François Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., were interfered with in their heats and advanced by the officials.

In the men’s 500 metres, Jean again won his two races to advance to Sunday’s quarterfinals. His teammates were not as fortunate, as Charle Cournoyer and Bastille will skate in the morning’s repechage rounds in an attempt to qualify. Cournoyer was third in his first race, while Bastille was advanced from his preliminary heat and then was third in his qualifying race.

With two first place finishes in the preliminary rounds for the second 1,500 metres, Gilday earned a spot in Sunday’s semifinals. Vincent Cournoyer will also bypass the repechage after being advanced from his first race and then taking second place in the qualifying heat. Hamelin placed third following a fall, but was not advanced by the officials. He will have to vie for one of the three repechage positions on Sunday morning.

In the women’s first 1,500 metres, both Marie-Eve Drolet, of Laterrière, Que., and Gabrielle Waddell, of Red Deer, Alta., qualified for Saturday’s semifinals after placing second in their respective heats. Caroline Truchon, of Chicoutimi, Que., was penalized in her race and eliminated.

In the women’s 1,000 metres, Jessica Hewitt, of Kamloops, B.C., and Valérie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals. After winning her preliminary heat, Marianne St. Gelais, of St. Félicien, Que., was penalized in the qualifying heat and eliminated. Maltais won both her 1,000-metre races today, while Hewitt was took first place in the preliminary and was second in the qualifying heat.

St. Gelais and Waddell both bounced back from penalties in their other race to qualify for the 500-metre quarterfinals on Sunday. St. Gelais won both her races to advance, while Truchon won her preliminary heat and was second in the qualifying heat. Waddell, who won bronze in the 500 metres in Sochi, Russia, last weekend, also moved on to the quarterfinals with first and second place finishes.

All three women advanced to Sunday’s semifinals for the second 1,500 metres. Drolet, Hewitt and Maltais finished second in each of their respective heats to qualify.

In the women’s relay quarterfinals today, Canada took first place ahead of Italy, Great Britain and Bulgaria. They will face Italy, China and Poland in Saturday’s semifinals. Skating most of the race in second place behind China, the men’s team dropped to fourth place after a fall and did not qualify for the semifinals.

Canadian official Jacques Grégoire, of Pointes-aux-Trembles, Que., is serving as a referee at this World Cup. Grégoire, named 2012-13 René Marleau Official of the Year by SSC, also worked the World Cup in Montreal in October and will be at the World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary in March.

The World Cup Podium Tracker by Intact Insurance stands at $35,000 (10 gold, 15 silver; 10 bronze). Intact Insurance will award $1,000 in cash and prizes to a local speed skating club with each individual medal win.