Liam McFarlane, Best Canadian Result at Changchun Short Track World Cup

Liam McFarlane (Medicine Hat, AB) followed up his strong performance yesterday with more good races at the Korean Air ISU Short Track World Cup event in Changchun, China. He managed to finish 7th in the 500m, at his first career World Cup competition. Andréa Do-Duc (Montréal, QC) another young skater on Team Canada, achieved the top result on the women side with a 10th place, also in the 500m.

“I had expectations to make the A final today,” said McFarlane at the end of the day. “I didn’t achieve it, I had a tough semi-final and made a few bad decisions, I then tried new things in the B Final, racing from the back, and that didn’t really work either. But overall, this is a great experience, I’m happy to be here with the team and to get this experience, I’m learning to adapt to the World Cup Circuit.” The Canadian skater finished second of the B final, in which he tried to race from the back. McFarlane is known for his fast start, which is generally his biggest advantage in a race, so going from the back was a big challenge for him.

Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) took 8th place in the 500m after he was penalized in his semi-final for a contact while trying to block an American skater who was trying to pass him on the inside. New rules allow for that cross tracking move, but as long as there is no contact between the skaters, which there was, leading to Hamelin’s penalty. Dustin Miller (Kitchener, ON) was eliminated in the final of the repechage for 19th place.

None of the Canadian women was able to make it past the quarter finals in the 500m. Do-Duc was facing a tough heat with American Lana Gehring and Korean Yang Shin-Young, and she had to settle for third place, not enough to make it to the semi-final. She finishes 10th overall. Meanwhile, teammate Jessica Gregg (Edmonton, AB), returning to competition after suffering a concussion earlier this season, also took third place of her semi-final, behind skaters from China and Japan, for 12th place overall. Laurie Marceau (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC), a promising junior aged skater who normally specializes in longer distances, was fourth of her quarter final, for 14th place overall.

In 1500m action, veteran skater Marie-Ève Drolet (Laterrière, QC) was the strongest, with a 16th place. “I had a really good semi-final race, with great passes, I was always wel positioned,” she explained. “With one lap to go, I was third, I tried an inside pass but I touched the block and slipped, which was very unfortunate. I’m really satisfied with my race up to that point.”

Rookie Gabrielle Waddell (Red Deer, AB) received a penalty for impeding while attempting a pass in her semi-final, and has to settle for 18th place. She had previously managed to go through two rounds of the repechage, which was a great accomplishment in itself. Marie-Andrée Mendes-Campeau (Montreal, QC) slightly injured her shoulder during a fall yesterday. She had some badluck in today’s repechage final, when a Russian skater fell and brought her down with her. Hitting her shoulder once more, she was unable to finish the race and will sit out tomorrow’s races in order to give her injury a chance to heal in time for next week’s World Cup event in Shanghai.

Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) wasn’t able to make it through his semi-final, finishing sixth, for 15th place overall. Meanwhile, teammate Rémi Beaulieu (Alma, QC) received a penalty for kicking out at the finish line of his semi-final, and he finishes 20th overall in the distance. “I’m not too sure what happened behind me during the race,” said Beaulieu. “There sure was a lot of action [four skaters were disqualified out of six in his semi-final]. I raced from the front. In talking with my coach Derrick [Campbell] afterwards, we found a lot of positive in my race despite the result. I want to learn to be more competitive, more proactive in the races, and I did just that today. I had a great race, but unfortunately, at the finish my blade dug into the ice and I fell, so I was penalised for kicking out. But I’m racing so much better than in Montreal, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

In the relay, the Canadian men (Hamelin, Jean, Beaulieu and Michael Gilday of Yellowknife) managed to win their semi-final ahead of China, and they will skate in tomorrow’s final round. The women’s team, made of Gregg, Drolet, Waddell and Marceau, finished third behind teams from China and the Netherlands, and was eliminated. “We made mistakes in a few exchanges,” explained Marie-Ève Drolet. “We also tried a new technique which worked really well at first, we managed to create a small gap, but then others caught up. We’re not used to racing together, with two girls who train in Calgary and two from Montreal, and that made it a bit harder to complete good powerful exchanges.”

Tomorrow, skaters will race quarter, semi and final rounds of the 500m and 1000m, as well as the final of the relay, to conclude the third stop of the Short Track World Cup Circuit in Changchun, China.