Four Medals in Four Races for Canadian skaters at Montreal Short Track World Cup

Team Canada was well represented on all podiums today at the Korean Air ISU World Cup Short Track Montreal 2010. Valérie Maltais (La Baie, QC) and Guillaume Bastille (Rivière-du-Loup, QC) won bronze medals in the 1500m, before Marianne St-Gelais (St-Félicien, QC) and Michael Gilday (Yellowknife, NWT) took silver in the 1000m.

There were a lot of “firsts”, today, for the Canadians. It was a first individual world cup medal in career for Maltais, a first medal in the 1000m for St-Gelais and a first medal in the 1500m for Bastille. Main Canadian Team sponsor Intact also created a first when they committed to giving $1,000 to a club each time an athlete steps on the world cup podium, starting with the medalist’s home club. So with today’s results, the F-18 de La Baie, Club de patinage de vitesse de Rivière-du-Loup, the Éclairs de St-Félicien, and the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club will all receive $1,000 courtesy of Intact.

Valérie Maltais won her first individual World Cup medal today; Photo: Simon Pichette
Maltais was the first up, in the 1500m final. With five laps to go, she started an outside pass to take the lead. The other skaters were quick to catch up with her, and American Lana Gehring passed Maltais two laps before the end of the race, and was followed by Chinese Zhou Yang. Gehring won the race in 2:24.449, followed by Zhou (2:24.465) and Maltais took bronze in 2:24.560.

“This is my first individual medal in a World Cup,” jubilated Maltais afterwards. “It was the objective this weekend so I’m really happy!” Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montreal, QC) and Jessica Hewitt (Kamloops, BC) were both in the B final, in which Mendes-Campeau finished 2nd, for 8th place overall, and Hewitt is 16th overall.

On the men side, there were two Canadians in the final: Bastille, who already had four races in the legs as he had to go through the repechage in the morning, and Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC). It was an action packed race, with a lot of passes. With five laps to go, Hamelin was fighting for the lead with Americans Simon Cho and Jeff Simon, while Bastille was fighting to stay in fourth. It looked like Hamelin was going to get away with the win, when Simon and Cho tried an inside pass in the last corner. Hamelin was deported a bit, the Americans passed and so did Bastille, and they crossed the line in that order, Simon taking the gold in 2:25.954, Cho silver in 2:26.004, Bastille the bronze (2:26.157) and Hamelin had to settle for fourth place (2:26.285).

“Having raced in the repechage was possibly an advantage for me,” explained Bastille. “At this point, I really need to race, today it was good for me, it allowed me to find the right feeling on the ice.” François-Louis Tremblay (Boucherville, QC), the other Canadian in the distance, won the B final for 7th place overall.

In 1000m action, St-Gelais raced a great final, making sure she was always first or second. The strategy payed off as she was in the lead with two laps to go, but American Katherine Reutter then passed outside to take the gold medal in 1:31.022. St-Gelais finished just behind in 1:31.181 and Chinese Liu Qiuhong won the bronze in 1:31.310.

“I was trying a new strategy in the 1000m this weekend,” said St-Gelais. “I’m really happy of course. I was surprised in crossing the finish line because I thought the Chinese would come from behind and try to pass me, they always do that, but there was no one right behind me!” Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC) and Valérie Lambert (Sherbrooke, QC) were eliminated in the quarter finals and finished 9th and 15th respectively.

Michael Gilday was the lone Canadian representative on the men side, and he had a

Michael Gilday on his way to silver in the 1000m; Photo: Simon Pichette
strong day. The final was a close race between him, French skater Thibault Fauconnnet and Americans Travis Jayner and Anthony Lobello. Fauconnet took the lead with three laps to go and never looked back, crossing the finish first in 1:31.096. Gilday came from the back in the last lap with a beautiful inside pass to take the silver in 1:31.120. Jayner rounded off the podium (1:31.208).

Gilday was not fully satisfied with his race: “I found myself in a bad position with two laps to go, but I used the new rule to my advantage, it’s easier now to try an inside pass now. I’m happy but not satisfied, I knew I was in good shape and since the Koreans are not here, I really wanted to win.”

François Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) was eliminated in the repechage final and has to settle for 17th place. Both of Canada’s relay team also managed to qualify for tomorrow’s final rounds, the women finishing 2nd to the Americans and the men winning their race ahead of the Russians.

Tomorrow, action starts at 9am at the Maurice-Richard Arena in Montreal, with the 500m and 1500m repechage. All Canadian skaters will get to sleep in however, and they will be in action in the quarter and semi final races, along with the finals of the relay, starting at 1:45pm.