Day 1, World Junior Short Track Championship

Canada’s St. Jean is fourth in men’s 1,500 metres and Thibault is 13th for the women

MELBOURNE, Australia – The three-day 2012 World Junior Short Track Championship (event website) started today at the Medibank Icehouse in Melbourne, Australia. The Canadian junior men and women competed in the 1,500 metres and relay heats. Racing started Friday at 11:10 a.m. local, which was 7:10 p.m. on Thursday Eastern Time (16-hour time difference with Australia).

Quebec City’s Alexandre St. Jean was Canada’s top skater finishing just off the podium in fourth place. Se Yeong Park of South Korea won the gold medal in a time of two minutes and 20.059 seconds, followed by teammate Hyo Been Lee in second (2:20.087) and American John-Henry Krueger in third (2:21.480). St. Jean had a time of 2:21.669, just 0.189 seconds from a bronze medal. To reach the final, St. Jean was second in each of his three races – qualifying heat, quarter-final and semifinal.

Léa Thibault from Laval, Que., was the top Canadian women in the 1,500 metres with a 13th place ranking. She was second in her first heat to qualify for the semifinals. In the semifinals, Thibault placed fifth in her heat. Only the top two skaters in each of the three semifinals moved on to the final.

The other Canadians skating in the men’s 1,500 metres saw Yoan Gauthier of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., finish 16th overall and Montreal’s David Goulet 18th. On the women’s side Courtney Shmyr from Langley, B.C., was 27th and Audrey Phaneuf from Boucherville, Que., took 31st spot.

Needing to be one of the two top from their heats to move on to the semifinals, both Phaneuf and Shmyr finished fourth in their first races. In their first heats to qualify for the quarter-finals, Gauthier was first in his and Goulet was second. They had identical results in the quarter-finals, but then both finished in sixth place in their semifinal races.

In the men’s relay qualify heat, Canada finished third behind Japan and Germany, and did not qualify for the semifinals. Jean-Christophe Marando, of Longueuil, Que., joined Gauthier, Goulet and St. Jean for the relay race. With eight countries competing in the women’s relay team, there will be a semifinal and final. Canada will face China, Italy and Kazakhstan in one semifinal on Saturday.

There are 46 women from 21 countries and 62 men from 26 countries competing in the junior championship.

The world junior championship continues tomorrow with Day 2 with 500-metre races and women’s relay semifinals. The final day of competition will see the 1,000 metres, the Super 1,500 metres, and relay finals. For the Super 1,500 metres, the skaters are ranked in heats from total points from the first three races.

MP3 audioDavid Goulet (French) and Léa Thibault (French)