Drolet & Gilday Canadian champions

Marie-Ève Drolet and Michael Gilday overall champions at 2013 Canadian Open Short Track Championships
Marianne St. Gelais and Charles Hamelin win 1000m and Drolet and Vincent Cournoyer win 3000m

– Two new champions were crowned today at the 2013 Canadian Open Short Track Championships at Montreal’s Maurice-Richard Arena, with Marie-Ève Drolet, of Laterrière, Que., taking the women’s title and Michael Gilday of Yellowknife the men’s. In today’s distances, Marianne St. Gelais, of St. Félicien, Que., and Charles Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., won their respective 1,000-metre races, and Drolet and Vincent Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., were 3,000-metre champions.

Drolet won today’s 3,000-metre race and was second in the 1,000 metres for a championship total of 2557 points. Marianne St. Gelais, of St. Félicien, Que., was second with 2,308 points and Jessica Hewitt, of Kamloops, B.C., was third with 2,252 points.

“My first objective was rank myself to qualify for the world championships,” said Drolet. “That’s the top three, so I did that and I’m happy to have done well. At the same time, it (Canadian championship) was an important rehearsal for the Olympic selections coming real soon this August.”

Gilday edged out defending champion Charles Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., by 16 points. Gilday placed fourth in both the 1,000- and 3,000-metre races today for a total of 2,432 points. Hamelin won today’s 1,000 metres, but was eighth in the 3,000 for a point total of 2,416. Charle Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., was third overall with 1,976 points.

“Consistency pays in an overall competition when it’s cumulative points, and I was really consistent,” said Gilday. “That was the biggest thing. I’m a little disappointed with three times fourth place. I was in all the finals, which is awesome and where I wanted to be, but I also want to be pushing for the wins a little harder. Charles (Hamelin), obviously he’s got eight national titles, or something like that, I’ll gladly take one. Both of us are focusing on the world championships.”

In the women’s 1,000-metre final, St. Gelais earned 1,000 points with a first place finish in one minute and 29.592 seconds. Drolet took the silver medal and 816 points with a time of 1:29.816, and the bronze (666 points) went to Hewitt, who finished in 1:29.908. Gabrielle Waddell, of Red Deer, Alta., took fourth place (1:30.366) and 543 points.

The men’s 1,000-metre final, Hamelin won his second distance title in a time of one minute and 23.616 seconds. Charle Cournoyer took the silver medal in 1:23.690 and Guillaume Bastille, of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., won bronze in 1:23.829. Gilday took fourth place in 1:23.852 and Pier-Olivier Gagnon, of Montreal, was fifth in 1:25.660.

In the 3,000-metre final, which brings together the top eight ranked skaters after three distances, skaters received the following points towards the overall ranking based on their finish: 1st – 500 points; 2nd – 408; 3rd – 333; 4th – 272; 5th – 222; 6th – 181; 7th – 148; and, 8th – 121.

The men’s 3,000 metres saw a win by Vincent Cournoyer, with brother Charle coming in second, and Bastille in third place. The final five spots went to Gilday in fourth, Patrick Duffy in fifth, Rémi Beaulieu in sixth, François-Louis Tremblay in seventh and Charles Hamelin in eighth, after suffering a fall.

In the women’s race, Drolet earned 500 points for a total of 2,557 over four races. Hewitt took second place, followed by Waddell in third, Caroline Truchon, of Chicoutimi, Que., in fourth, St. Gelais in fifth, Jessica Gregg, of Edmonton, in sixth, and Valérie Lambert, of Sherbrooke, Que., in seventh place. Valérie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., did not skate.

Maltais withdrew from competition today for precautionary reasons because of a strained leg muscle. With second and fourth place finishes from the first two races, Maltais was leading the women’s group in points at the championships. François Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., also did not skate today after cutting his left foot during Saturday’s 500-metre quarterfinals.

Announcement of team for world championships and World Cups

The championships serve as the main component for national team selection for the World Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, from March 8 to 10. This team, including the substitute, will also compete in the final two World Cups – Sochi, Russia, from Feb. 1 to 3, and Dresden, Germany, from Feb. 8 to 10.

The high performance committee for short track will determine the rankings using 80 per cent of the points earned during the Canadian Open Championships and 20 per cent from the fall World Cup selections last September in Calgary. The committee will also take into consideration any requests for injury byes. The team will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 23, with a media availability to follow on Friday, Jan. 25 at the Maurice-Richard Arena. The team leaves on Saturday, Jan. 26 for the World Cup in Sochi.