Drolet & Gilday win 1500 m at Canadian Open

Marie-Ève Drolet and Michael Gilday win the 1,500 m at 2013 Canadian Open Short Track Championships

– National team member Marie-Ève Drolet, of Laterrière, Que., won today’s women’s 1,500 metres for a third year in a row, while Michael Gilday of Yellowknife, took his first 1,500-metre title at the 2013 Canadian Open Short Track Championships at Montreal’s Maurice-Richard Arena. The championships continue Saturday at 2 p.m. with the 500 metres. Starting at 9:40 a.m. on Sunday, the races will feature the 1,000 metres, 3,000 metres and relays. (full results)

The six-woman final pitted five national team members and this year’s overall national junior champion.

Drolet captured the gold medal, and 1,000 points for the ranking, in a time of two minutes and 27.39 seconds. Jessica Hewitt, of Kamloops, B.C., won the silver medal in 2:27.458 (816 points), and the bronze medal went to Gabrielle Waddell, of Red Deer, Alta., who crossed the line in 2:27.528 (666 points).

“I’m very satisfied. I knew that I could do it (win the 1500 m),” said Drolet. “But in speed skating you never know what can happen. I really took each race on its own today. That helped me mentally and physically to concentrate on one race at a time.”

Valérie Maltais, of La Baie, Que., earned fourth place in 2:27.621 (543 points), with fifth place going to Caroline Truchon, of Chicoutimi, Que., in 2:28.033 (443 points). Junior champion Genève Bélanger, of Montreal, was sixth in 2:32.32 (362 points)

The men’s final featured three national team and three development team skaters.

Gilday skated to a gold medal (1,000 pts) in a time of 2 minutes and 14.594 seconds. He won the 1,500-metre bronze in the last two Canadian championships. Guillaume Bastille, of Rivière-du-Loup, Que., was the silver medallist (816 pts) with a time of 2:14.694, and Vincent Cournoyer, of Boucherville, Que., claimed the bronze medal (666 pts) in 2:15.019.

“It’s my first time I win a 1,500-metre Canadian championship,” said Gilday. “I won one at the Olympic trials, but first time Canadian champion is pretty cool. It (racing today) was pretty good. I employed a strategy that worked out pretty well. I went in the front, pulled strong and it worked out today.”

Patrick Duffy, of Oakville, Ont., took fourth place (543 pts) in the final in a time of 2:15.47, while penalties (362 pts each) were assessed to François Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., and Alexandre St. Jean, of Quebec City.

Gilday, Bastille and Hamelin are national team members.

Ranking and points earned from other national team members: Women: Jessica Gregg, of Edmonton, 10th, 160 points; Marianne St. Gelais, of St. Félicien, Que., 13th, 86 points (penalty in the semi-final). Men: Rémi Beaulieu, of Alma, Que., 12th, 106 points; Charles Hamelin, of Sainte-Julie, Que., 7th, 295 points; Liam McFarlane, of Medicine Hat, Alta., 9th, 196 points; and François-Louis Tremblay, of Alma, Que., 26th, 4 points (penalty in qualification round for two false starts).

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.