Maltais & Hamelin win the 500 metres at Canadian Open Short Track Championship

Maltais and Hamelin win the 500 metres at Canadian Open Short Track Championship

SAGUENAY, Que. – New champions in the 500-metre distance were crowned today as Valérie Maltais of La Baie, Que., and Charles Hamelin of Saint Julie, Que., each earned the gold medal in their respective women’s and men’s final at the 2012 Canadian Open Short Track Championship in Saguenay, Que.

After skating through a qualification round, quarterfinal and semi-final, Maltais won the four-and-a-half lap final in 44.182 seconds. With Maltais and Marie-Eve Drolet of Laterrière, Que., exchanging the lead throughout the race, Drolet fell with a lap and a half to go. Caroline Truchon, of Chicoutimi, Que., claimed the silver medal in 44.263 seconds, not being able to pass Maltais in the last lap. Drolet was the bronze medalist.

It was a three-skater final, as Kasandra Bradette of St. Félicien, Que., withdrew because of an injury. Drolet won the women’s 1,500 metres Friday, while Maltais took silver and Truchon the bronze.

“For sure that for me I’m happy,” said Maltais. “I was right behind Marie-Eve. I was going to try something before the finish. I believe when she fell we had to go wide to gain speed and I just missed hitting her. Winning certainly helps for the point standings. It’s going to be a good battle tomorrow.”

In the men’s final, Hamelin, bronze medallist in 2011, battled from third spot with two laps to go to edge out the four-man final in 41.51 seconds. François-Louis Tremblay of Alma, Que., had a strong start and lead most of the race but finished with the silver medal in a time of 41.579 seconds. Liam McFarlane of Medicine Hat, Alta., took the bronze medal with a time of 41.661 seconds. Charle Cournoyer of Longueuil, Que., was fourth (41.862).

“I had good results (in earlier races). In the final the tempo was quite a bit higher,” said Hamelin. “I left from the third position and there were guys who took off fast. I didn’t panic. I stayed in control. I went for the move that would win the race.”

The Canadian championship, which serves as the national team selection event for the final two World Cups and World Championship, wraps-up with the 1,000 metres, 3,000 metres and relays. The competition starts at 9:40 a.m. on Sunday. Catch all the races on the live webcast.