Jean-François Monette wins gold, Alanna Kraus bronze in 500 races at short track World Cup

Jean-François Monette of Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que., won the gold medal in the men’s 500 metres on Saturday, his first career victory on the short track speed skating World Cup circuit.

Monette led from start to finish and clocked 41.963 seconds for his sixth medal overall this season. Suk-Woo Song of South Korea finished second in 42.057 and Jiajun Li of China was third in 42.122.

“I was starting to get anxious to get a win,” said Monette, the 500 World Cup champion last season despite no victories and also the current world record holder in the event. “The 500 is my best event and I had a very good race today. My start was excellent and it allowed me to get the quick lead. I feel a lot more confident this season. Last year was a learning experience for me.”

Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie, Que., was eliminated in the semifinals for seventh place and Steve Robillard of Montreal was ousted in the quarterfinals for 11th.

In a controversial women’s 500, Tianyu Fu of China won the gold medal. Her compatriot Xiaolei Cheng was second and Kraus was third for her first medal this season. After an initial false start, the starter’s gun malfunctioned on the second attempt but the race continued anyway.

“It was a mess,” said Kraus, 26, forced to stop on the first corner when an Italian skater fell in front of her. “The pistol clicked first then fired but it was still considered a clean start. We were pretty mad about it. I’m disappointed because I had a very good position on the line. I would have liked to see what I could have done in a clean race.”

Amélie Goulet-Nadon of Laval, Que., was eliminated in the semifinal for seventh and Amanda Overland of Kitchener, Ont., was ousted in the quarters for 16th.

Canada advanced to both relay finals. In the men’s semifinals Canada won its heat with Monette, Robillard, Hamelin and Éric Bédard of Ste-Thècle, Que.

The Canadian women were second in their semifinal heat behind China with Kraus, Goulet-Nadon, Overland and Anouk Leblanc-Boucher of Montreal.

Competition ends Sunday.